Evaluating time-lapse ERT for monitoring DNAPL remediation via numerical simulation

Christopher Power, Marios Karaoulis, Jason Gerhard, Panagiotis Tsourlos, Antonios Giannopoulos

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) remain a challenging geoenvironmental problem in the near subsurface. Numerous thermal, chemical, and biological treatment methods are being applied at sites but without a non-destructive, rapid technique to map the evolution of DNAPL mass in space and time, the degree of remedial success is difficult to quantify. Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) has long been presented as highly promising in this context but has not yet become a practitioner's tool due to challenges in interpreting the survey results at real sites where the initial condition (DNAPL mass, DNAPL distribution, subsurface heterogeneity) is typically unknown. Recently, a new numerical model was presented that couples DNAPL and ERT simulation at the field scale, providing a tool for optimizing ERT application and interpretation at DNAPL sites (Power et al., 2011, Fall AGU, H31D-1191). The objective of this study is to employ this tool to evaluate the effectiveness of time-lapse ERT to monitor DNAPL source zone remediation, taking advantage of new inversion methodologies that exploit the differences in the target over time. Several three-dimensional releases of chlorinated solvent DNAPLs into heterogeneous clayey sand at the field scale were generated, varying in the depth and complexity of the source zone (target). Over time, dissolution of the DNAPL in groundwater was simulated with simultaneous mapping via periodic ERT surveys. Both surface and borehole ERT surveys were conducted for comparison purposes. The latest four-dimensional ERT inversion algorithms were employed to generate time-lapse isosurfaces of the DNAPL source zone for all cases. This methodology provided a qualitative assessment of the ability of ERT to track DNAPL mass removal for complex source zones in realistically heterogeneous environments. In addition, it provided a quantitative comparison between the actual DNAPL mass removed and that interpreted by ERT as a function of depth below the water table, as well as an estimate of the minimum DNAPL saturation changes necessary for an observable response from ERT.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
EventAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2012 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 3 Dec 20127 Dec 2012


ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2012
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

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