Innovative Contaminant Mass Flux Monitoring in an Aquifer Subject to Tidal Effects
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Exposure from groundwater contamination to aquatic receptors residing in receiving surface water is dependent upon the rate of contaminated groundwater discharge.

Characterization of groundwater fluxes is challenging, especially in coastal environments where tidal fluctuations result in transient groundwater flows towards these receptors. This can also be further complicated by the high spatial heterogeneity of subsurface deposits enhanced by anthropogenic influences such as the mixing of natural sediments and backfill materials, the presence of subsurface built structures such as sheet pile walls or even occurrence of other sources of contaminant discharge. In this study, the finite volume point dilution method (FVPDM) was successfully used to characterize highly transient groundwater flows and contaminant mass fluxes within a coastal groundwater flow system influenced by marked tides. FVPDM tests were undertaken continuously for more than 48 h at six groundwater monitoring wells, in order to evaluate groundwater flow dynamics during several tide cycles. Contaminant concentrations were measured simultaneously which allowed calculating contaminant mass fluxes. The study highlighted the importance of the aquifer heterogeneity, with groundwater fluxes ranging from 10−7 to 10−3 m/s. Groundwater flux monitoring enabled a significant refinement of the conceptual site model, including the fact that inversion of groundwater fluxes was not observed at high tide. Results indicated that contaminant mass fluxes were particularly higher at a specific monitoring well, by more than three orders of magnitude, than at other wells of the investigated aquifer. This study provided crucial information for optimizing further field investigations and risk mitigation measures.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Frederic Cosme
  • All Authors: Frederic Cosme, Geosyntec Consultants; Pierre Jamin, Pierre Briers, Philippe Orban, Serge Brouyère, University of Liège; Ken De Greene, Jacobs
  • Title: The Journal Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation
  • Event or Publication: Publication
  • Practice Areas: Groundwater Assessment and Remediation
  • Citation: Frederic Cosme, CPEng, Ir. (Australia) coauthored a paper entitled “Innovative Contaminant Mass Flux Monitoring in an Aquifer Subject to Tidal Effects” published in the journal Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation Spring 2020 issue.
  • Date: Spring 2020
  • Publication Type: Journal Article