Saline tracer visualized with three-dimensional electrical resistivity tomography: Field-scale spatial moment analysis

Water Resources Research
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Abstract

Cross-well electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) was used to monitor the migration of a saline tracer in a two-well pumping-injection experiment conducted at the Massachusetts Military Reservation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After injecting 2200 mg/L of sodium chloride for 9 hours, ERT data sets were collected from four wells every 6 hours for 20 days. More than 180,000 resistance measurements were collected during the tracer test. Each ERT data set was inverted to produce a sequence of 3-D snapshot maps that track the plume. In addition to the ERT experiment a pumping test and an infiltration test were conducted to estimate horizontal and vertical hydraulic conductivity values. Using modified moment analysis of the electrical conductivity tomograms, the mass, center of mass, and spatial variance of the imaged tracer plume were estimated. Although the tomograms provide valuable insights into field-scale tracer migration behavior and aquifer heterogeneity, standard tomographic inversion and application of Archie's law to convert electrical conductivities to solute concentration results in underestimation of tracer mass. Such underestimation is attributed to (1) reduced measurement sensitivity to electrical conductivity values with distance from the electrodes and (2) spatial smoothing (regularization) from tomographic inversion. The center of mass estimated from the ERT inversions coincided with that given by migration of the tracer plume using 3-D advective-dispersion simulation. The 3-D plumes seen using ERT exhibit greater apparent dispersion than the simulated plumes and greater temporal spreading than observed in field data of concentration breakthrough at the pumping well.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Saline tracer visualized with three-dimensional electrical resistivity tomography: Field-scale spatial moment analysis
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/2004WR003460
Volume 41
Issue 5
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description W05023; 17 p.