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Ground Water. 2006 Mar-Apr;44(2):155-64.

Multiscale characterization of a heterogeneous aquifer using an ASR operation.

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CSIRO Land and Water, PMB 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.


Heterogeneity in the physical properties of an aquifer can significantly affect the viability of aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) by reducing the recoverable proportion of low-salinity water where the ambient ground water is brackish or saline. This study investigated the relationship between knowledge of heterogeneity and predictions of solute transport and recovery efficiency by combining permeability and ASR-based tracer testing with modeling. Multiscale permeability testing of a sandy limestone aquifer at an ASR trial site showed that small-scale core data give lower-bound estimates of aquifer hydraulic conductivity (K), intermediate-scale downhole flowmeter data offer valuable information on variations in K with depth, and large-scale pumping test data provide an integrated measure of the effective K that is useful to constrain ground water models. Chloride breakthrough and thermal profiling data measured during two cycles of ASR showed that the movement of injected water is predominantly within two stratigraphic layers identified from the flowmeter data. The behavior of the injectant was reasonably well simulated with a four-layer numerical model that required minimal calibration. Verification in the second cycle achieved acceptable results given the model's simplicity. Without accounting for the aquifer's layered structure, high precision could be achieved on either piezometer breakthrough or recovered water quality, but not both. This study demonstrates the merit of an integrated approach to characterizing aquifers targeted for ASR.

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