Since salt cannot always be used as a geophysical tracer (because it may pollute the aquifer with the mass that is necessary to induce a geophysical contrast), and since in many contaminated aquifer salts (e.g., chloride) already constitute the main contaminants, another geophysical tracer is needed to force a contrast in the subsurface that can be detected from surface geophysical measurements. In this context, we used heat as a proxy to image and monitor groundwater flow and solute transport in a shallow alluvial aquifer (<10 m deep) with the help of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT). The goal of our study is to demonstrate the feasibility of such methodology in the context of the validation of the efficiency of a hydraulic barrier that confines a chloride contamination to its source. To do so, we combined a heat tracer push/pull test with time-lapse 3D ERT and classical hydrogeological measurements in wells and piezometers. Our results show that heat can be an excellent salt substitution tracer for geophysical monitoring studies, both qualitatively and semi-quantitatively. Our methodology, based on 3D surface ERT, allows to visually prove that a hydraulic barrier works efficiently and could be used as an assessment of such installations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited