A new tracer technique for monitoring groundwater fluxes: The Finite Volume Point Dilultion Method (FVPDM)
Quantification of pollutant mass fluxes is essential for assessing the impact of contaminated sites on their surrounding environment, particularly on adjacent surface water bodies. In this context, it is essential to quantify but also to be able to monitor the variations with time of Darcy fluxes in relation with changes in hydrogeological conditions and groundwater — surface water interactions. A new tracer technique is proposed that generalizes the single-well point dilution method to the case of finite volumes of tracer fluid and water flush. It is called the Finite Volume Point Dilution Method (FVPDM). It is based on an analytical solution derived from a mathematical model proposed recently to accurately model tracer injection into a well. Using a non-dimensional formulation of the analytical solution, a sensitivity analysis is performed on the concentration evolution in the injection well, according to tracer injection conditions and well-aquifer interactions. Based on this analysis, optimised field techniques and interpretation methods are proposed. The new tracer technique is easier to implement in the field than the classical point dilution method while it further allows monitoring temporal changes of the magnitude of estimated Darcy fluxes, which is not the case for the former technique. The new technique was applied to two experimental sites with contrasting objectives, geological and hydrogeological conditions, and field equipment facilities. In both cases, field tracer concentrations monitored in the injection wells were used to fit the calculated modelled concentrations by adjusting the apparent Darcy flux crossing the well screens. Modelling results are very satisfactory and indicate that the methodology is efficient and accurate, with a wide range of potential applications in different environments and experimental conditions, including the monitoring with time of changes in Darcy fluxes.