Characterizing the two-dimensional thermal conductivity distribution in a sand and gravel aquifer

Soil Science Society of America Journal
By: , and 



Both hydrologic and thermal transport properties play a significant role in the movement of heat through permeable sedimentary material; however, the thermal conductivity is rarely characterized in detailed spatial resolution. As part of a study of the movement of thermal plumes through a sand and gravel aquifer, we have constructed a two-dimensional profile of thermal conductivity. This work consisted of: (i) measuring the thermal conductivity of the soil solids, λs, for the main stratigraphic units using the steady-state divided-bar apparatus and estimating conductivity from mineral composition; (ii) measuring the volumetric water content and porosity using crosshole ground-penetrating radar; (iii) evaluating four models used to predict the apparent thermal conductivity, λ, of variably saturated soils and selecting the best model using the information-theoretic approach, (iv) calculating the λ field on a 0.25-m square cell grid using measured data and the selected model, and (v) simulating thermal transport within the two-dimensional domain using a finite element numerical model. The apparent thermal conductivity in the saturated aquifer ranges from 2.14 to 2.69 W m−1 K−1 with a mean of 2.42 W m−1 K−1 Numerical simulations show that the heterogeneous thermal conductivity field results in increased thermal dispersion that is most pronounced at the plume front. Our values for λ and λs may be used for glacial soils with similar mineralogy and texture. Our methods may also be used at other sites to construct the thermal conductivity distribution.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Characterizing the two-dimensional thermal conductivity distribution in a sand and gravel aquifer
Series title Soil Science Society of America Journal
DOI 10.2136/sssaj2005.0293
Volume 70
Issue 4
Description 14 p.
First page 1281
Last page 1294
Country Canada
State Ontario
Other Geospatial Tricks Creek Watershed
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