Using solute/ micro organism comparative tracer testing to investigate hydrogeological heterogeneity in a fluvioglacial sand and gravel aquifer.

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Groundwater drawn from fluvioglacial sand and gravel aquifers form the principal source of drinking water in many part of central Western Europe. High population densities and widespread organic agriculture in these same areas constitute hazards that may impact the microbiological quality of many potable supplies. Tracer testing comparing two similarly sized bacteria (E.coli and P. putida) and the smaller bacteriophage (H40/1) with the response of non-reactive solute tracer (uranine) at the decametre scale revealed that all tracers broke through up to 100 times more quickly than anticipated using conventional rules of thumb. All microbiological tracer responses were less disperse than the solute, although bacterial peak relative concentrations consistently exceeded those of the solute tracer at one sampling location reflecting exclusion processes influencing micro biological tracer migration. Relative recoveries of H40/1 and E.coli proved consistent at both monitoring wells, while responses of H40/1 and P.putida differed. Examination of exposures of the upper reaches of the aquifer in nearby sand and gravel quarries revealed the aquifer to consist of laterally extensive layers of open framework (OW) gravel enveloped in finer grained gravelly sand. Granulometric analysis of these deposits suggested that the OW gravel was up to two orders of magnitude more permeable than the surrounding deposits giving rise to the preferential flow paths. By contrast fine grained lenses of silty sand within the OW gravels are suspected to play an important role in the exclusion processes that permit solutes to access them but exclude larger micro organisms.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
    VolumeXX
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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