Large-scale natural gradient tracer test in sand and gravel, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: 1. Experimental design and observed tracer movement


  • Denis R. LeBlanc,

  • Stephen P. Garabedian,

  • Kathryn M. Hess,

  • Lynn W. Gelhar,

  • Richard D. Quadri,

  • Kenneth G. Stollenwerk,

  • Warren W. Wood


A large-scale natural gradient tracer experiment was conducted on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to examine the transport and dispersion of solutes in a sand and gravel aquifer. The nonreactive tracer, bromide, and the reactive tracers, lithium and molybdate, were injected as a pulse in July 1985 and monitored in three dimensions as they moved as far as 280 m down-gradient through an array of multilevel samplers. The bromide cloud moved horizontally at a rate of 0.42 m per day. It also moved downward about 4 m because of density-induced sinking early in the test and accretion of areal recharge from precipitation. After 200 m of transport, the bromide cloud had spread more than 80 m in the direction of flow, but was only 14 m wide and 4–6 m thick. The lithium and molybdate clouds followed the same path as the bromide cloud, but their rates of movement were retarded about 50% relative to bromide movement because of sorption onto the sediments.