STP1415

    Application of the Colloidal Borescope to Determine a Complex Groundwater Flow Pattern

    Published: Jan 2002


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    Abstract

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory staff made in situ flow measurements in groundwater monitoring wells at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site to determine the flow direction in an aquifer with a flat water table. Given the total errors in water level elevations and a gradient of a few centimeters over 500 meters, flow directions based on the potentiometric surface are ambiguous across the 200 East Area at the Hanford Site. The colloidal borescope was used because it allows direct, real time observation of mobile colloidal particles in the open interval of a water well and, thus, avoids the use of water level data. The results characterize a complex groundwater flow pattern under several buried waste storage tank farms. The aquifer, artificially high due to the large volume of liquid discharges to the soil column from Hanford's nuclear production era, is currently receding to original conditions. The aquifer lies in unconsolidated gravel beds overlying an impermeable basalt surface that has a plucked, flood-scoured, scabland structure. The current aquifer thickness is similar to the relief on the basalt surface. Thus, the groundwater must flow around the impermeable basalt structures producing a complicated flow pattern under the waste storage unit. The original monitoring network was designed for northwest flow when the water table was held artificially high. Proper locations for new wells are dependent on our knowledge of the flow direction. The results of the colloidal borescope investigation agree with the southerly direction indicated from hydrographs, contaminant trends, other direct flow data and the general concept of a receding aquifer draining off the southern limb of a basalt anticline. Flow in the aquifer is diverted by irregular local structural highs of very low permeability basalt.

    Keywords:

    Hydrology, flow direction, colloidal borescope, flat water table, in situ flow measurement, DOE Hanford Site, groundwater monitoring


    Author Information:

    Narbutovskih, SM
    Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, and Senior Research Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

    McDonald, JP
    Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, and Senior Research Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

    Schalla, R
    Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, and Senior Research Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA

    Sweeney, MD
    Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, and Senior Research Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA


    Paper ID: STP10626S

    Committee/Subcommittee: D18.09

    DOI: 10.1520/STP10626S


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