Application of tracer injection tests to characterize rock matrix block size distribution and dispersivity in fractured aquifers

Amin Sharifi Haddad, Hassan Hassanzadeh*, Jalal Abedi, Zhangxin Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The complexity of mass transfer processes between the mobile and immobile zones in geohydrologic settings and the limitations that currently exist in the characterization of contaminated sites demand the development of improved models. In this work, we present a model that describes the mass transfer in structured porous media. This model considers divergent radial advective-dispersive transport in fractures and diffusive mass transfer inside rock matrix blocks. The heterogeneous nature of fractured formations is included with the integration of various distributions of rock matrix block sizes into the transport model. Breakthrough curves generated based on the developed model are analyzed to investigate the effects of the rate of injection, dispersivity and the immobile to mobile porosity ratio on mass transfer between mobile and immobile zones. It is shown that the developed model, in conjunction with tracer data collected from a monitoring well, can be used to estimate the dispersivity and fracture intensity. Results reveal that the dispersivity is independent of the rock matrix block size distribution for dispersion-dominant transport in fractures. These findings are used to develop a methodology to characterize rock matrix block size distribution in fractured aquifers and to estimate dispersivity based on a tracer test, which will improve our decisions concerning the remediation of contaminated sites. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-512
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date10 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank Peter Kitanidis (Editor) and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Abdurrahman Satman (İstanbul Technical University), Peter Volkó (Texas A&M University) and Antony Ware (University of Calgary) for their help and useful comments. Financial support of NSERC/AI-EES (AERI)/Foundation CMG and AITF (iCORE) Chairs Funds is greatly acknowledged.


  • Ground water
  • Fractured rock
  • Solute transport
  • Breakthrough curve
  • Aquifer characterization
  • Dispersivity
  • Pore-scale heterogeneity
  • Structured porous-media
  • diffusive mass-transfer
  • Reservoir characterization
  • Contaminant transport
  • Fractal geometry
  • Single fracture
  • Double-Porosity
  • Fissured rocks


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