Modelling solute and microorganism transport through a peri-alpine gravel aquifer by considering the aquifer as a dual porosity fractured medium.

Raymond Flynn, Anthony Doherty, Ciara Fitzpatrick, G. Mallen, M. Engel

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    In-situ passive gradient comparative artificial tracer testing, undertaken using solutes (Uranine and Iodide), Bacteria (E.coli and P.putida) and bacteriophage (H40/1), permitted comparison of the mobility of different sized microorganisms relative to solutes in the sand and gravel aquifer underlying Dornach, Germany.
    Tracer breakthrough curves reveal that even though uranine initially arrived at observation wells at the same time as microbiological tracers, maximum relative concentrations were sometimes less than those of microbiological tracers, while solute breakthrough curves proved more disperse.
    Monitoring uranine breakthrough with depth suggested tracers arrived in observation wells in discrete 0.5m-1m thick intervals, over the aquifer’s 12m saturated thickness. Nearby exposures of aquifer material suggested that the aquifer consisted of sandy gravels enveloping sequences of open framework (OW) gravel up to 1m thick. Detailed examination of OW units revealed that they contained lenses of silty sand up to 1m long x 30cm thick., while granulometric data suggested that the gravel was two to three orders of magnitude more permeable than the enveloping sandy gravel.
    Solute and microorganism tracer responses could not be simulated using conventional advective-dispersive equation solutions employing the same velocity and dispersion terms. By contrast solute tracer responses, modelled using a dual porosity approach for fractured media (DP-1D) corresponded well to observed field data. Simulating microorganism responses using the same transport terms, but no dual porosity term, generated good model fits and explained the higher relative concentration of the bacteria, compared to the non-reactive solute, even with first order removal to account for lower RR. Geologically, model results indicate that the silty units within open framework gravels are accessible to solute tracers, but not to microorganisms.
    Results highlight the benefits of geological observations developing appropriate conceptual models of solute and micro organism transport and in developing suitable numerical approaches to quantifying microorganism mobility at scales appropriate for the development of groundwater supply (wellhead) protection zones.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
    EventCanadian Water Network Fall Meeting - Banff, Canada
    Duration: 23 Sep 201226 Sep 2012


    ConferenceCanadian Water Network Fall Meeting

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