Publication DetailsDetermination of Water Saturation in Relatively Dry Porous Media Using Gas-phase Tracer Tests.
Oostrom M, GD Tartakovsky, TW Wietsma, MJ Truex, and JH Dane.2011."Determination of Water Saturation in Relatively Dry Porous Media Using Gas-phase Tracer Tests."Vadose Zone Journal 10(2):634-641.
Soil desiccation (drying), involving water evaporation induced by dry air injection and extraction, is a potentially robust remediation process to slow migration of inorganic or radionuclide contaminants through the vadose zone. The application of gas-phase partitioning tracer tests has been proposed as a means to estimate initial water volumes and to monitor the progress of the desiccation process at pilot-test and field sites. In this paper, tracer tests have been conducted in porous medium columns with various water saturations using sulfur hexafluoride as the conservative tracer and tricholorofluoromethane and difluoromethane as the water-partitioning tracers. For porous media with minimal silt and/or organic matter fractions, tracer tests provided reasonable saturation estimates for saturations close to zero. However, for sediments with significant silt and/or organic matter fractions, tracer tests only provided satisfactory results when the water saturation was at least 0.1 - 0.2. For dryer conditions, the apparent tracer retardation increases due to air – soil sorption, which is not included in traditional retardation coefficients derived from advection-dispersion equations accounting only for air – water partitioning and water – soil sorption. Based on these results, gas-phase partitioning tracer tests may be used to determine initial water volumes in sediments, provided the initial water saturations are sufficiently large. However, tracer tests are not suitable for quantifying moisture content in desiccated sediments.