Partitioning Tracer Test for Detection, Estimation, and Remediation Performance Assessment of Subsurface Nonaqueous Phase Liquids


  • Minquan Jin,

  • Mojdeh Delshad,

  • Varadarajan Dwarakanath,

  • Daene C. McKinney,

  • Gary A. Pope,

  • Kamy Sepehrnoori,

  • Charles E. Tilburg,

  • Richard E. Jackson


In this paper we present a partitioning interwell tracer test (PITT) technique for the detection, estimation, and remediation performance assessment of the subsurface contaminated by nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPLs). We demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique by examples of experimental and simulation results. The experimental results are from partitioning tracer experiments in columns packed with Ottawa sand. Both the method of moments and inverse modeling techniques for estimating NAPL saturation in the sand packs are demonstrated. In the simulation examples we use UTCHEM, a comprehensive three-dimensional, chemical flood compositional simulator developed at the University of Texas, to simulate a hypothetical two-dimensional aquifer with properties similar to the Borden site contaminated by tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and we show how partitioning interwell tracer tests can be used to estimate the amount of PCE contaminant before remedial action and as the remediation process proceeds. Tracer tests results from different stages of remediation are compared to determine the quantity of PCE removed and the amount remaining. Both the experimental (small-scale) and simulation (large-scale) results demonstrate that PITT can be used as an innovative and effective technique to detect and estimate the amount of residual NAPL and for remediation performance assessment in subsurface formations.