Natural Resources Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 79–90 | Cite as

Evolution of Fluid Electrical Conductivity Profiles Associated with a Saline Contaminant Plume in a Horizontal Single-Plane Fractured-Rock Aquifer System

  • M. F. MolemeEmail author
  • M. Gomo
Original Paper


Fluid electrical conductivity (FEC) profiling is a simple and efficient technique used to identify groundwater flow zones intersected by a borehole. These zones can be targeted for groundwater sampling, conducting tracer tests, and determining hydraulic properties of aquifers. While the method has been used for decades and will probably continue to be used, its application has not yet been studied in a controlled aquifer environment in order to understand the typical FEC profile responses in aquifers of different structures and groundwater qualities. This information would assist in the interpretation of borehole FEC profiles in different hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical conditions. The primary aim of this study is to investigate the behavior of FEC profile responses associated with a saline contaminant plume in a horizontal single-plane fractured-rock aquifer system. Laboratory and field tests were utilized to achieve this aim. Two distinct FEC profiles were observed; these are described and conceptualized as the background FEC profile associated with natural water quality flow conditions and the plume-peak FEC profile associated with a saline contaminant plume. These conceptual FEC profiles can be used as basis for assessing the evolution of saline contaminants in aquifers of similar conditions and as guide for collecting groundwater samples and understanding the meaning of the data derived from such samples. Furthermore, the findings of this study provide new insight into the nature of FEC profile characteristics associated with a saline contaminant plume in a horizontal single-plane fractured-rock aquifer system.


Contamination Fluid electrical conductivity (FEC) Groundwater Horizontal single-plane fractured-rock aquifer Matrix 



We wish to acknowledge the support and funding of the Water Research Commission (WRC) of South Africa (KSA 1-THRUST 3 Contract No. 2428—Update of the Groundwater Sampling Manual (GSM)), without their contribution this research would not have been possible. Also, the contribution of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with a scholarship for the M.Sc. student MF Moleme, who was part of the research team, is truly appreciated.


  1. Becker, M. W., & Shapiro, A. M. (2000). Tracer transport in fractured crystalline rock: Evidence of non-diffusive breakthrough tailing. Water Resources Research, 36(7), 1677–1686. Scholar
  2. Botha, J. F., Verwey, J. P., Van der Voort, I., Vivier, J. J. P., Buys, J., Colliston, W. P., & Looch, J. C. (1997). Karoo aquifers: Their geology, geometry and physical properties. Report to the Water Research Commission of South Africa.Google Scholar
  3. Botha, J. F., Verwey, J. P., Van der Voort, I., Vivier, J. J. P., Colliston, W. P., & Loock, J. C. (1998). Karoo aquifers: Their geology, geometry and physical behaviour. Pretoria: Water Research Commission.Google Scholar
  4. Dennis, I., Pretorius, J., & Steyl, G. (2010). Effect of fracture zone on DNAPL transport and dispersion: A numerical approach. Environmental Earth Science, 61(7), 1531–1540. Scholar
  5. Doughty, C., & Tsang, C. F. (2002). Inflow and outflow signatures in flowing wellbore electrical-conductivity logs. Report LBNL-51468. Berkeley: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.Google Scholar
  6. Doughty, C., & Tsang, C. F. (2004). BORE II—A code to compute dynamic wellbore electrical conductivity logs with multiple inflow/outflow points including the effects of horizontal flow across the well. Report LBNL-46833. Berkeley: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.Google Scholar
  7. Doughty, C., & Tsang, C. F. (2005). Signatures in flowing fluid electric conductivity logs. Journal of Hydrology, 310, 157–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Doughty, C., Tsang, C. F., Hatanaka, K., Yabuuchi, S., & Kurikami, H. (2008). Application of direct-fitting, mass integral, and multirate methods to analysis of flowing fluid electric conductivity logs from Horonobe, Japan. Water Resources Research, 44, W08403. Scholar
  9. Doughty, C., Tsang, C. F., Yabuuchi, S., & kunimaru, T. (2013). Flowing fluid electric conductivity logging for a deep artesian well in fractured rock with regional flow. Journal of Hydrology, 482, 1–3. Scholar
  10. Gomo, M. (2009). Site characterisation of LNAPL—Contaminated fractured—Rock aquifer. M.Sc. thesis. Institute for Groundwater Studies, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State.Google Scholar
  11. Gomo, M., & Vermeulen, D. (2015). An investigative comparison of purging and non-purging groundwater sampling methods in Karoo aquifer monitoring wells. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 103, 81–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gomo, M., Vermeulen, D., & Lourens, P. (2017). Groundwater sampling: Flow-through bailer passive method versus conventional purge method. Natural Resources Research, 27(1), 51–65. Scholar
  13. Grisso, R., Alley, M., Holshouser, D., & Thomason, D. (2009). Precision farming tools: Soil electrical conductivity (pp. 442–508). Blacksburg: Virginia Cooperative Extension, Publication.Google Scholar
  14. Haggerty, R. S., McKenna, S. A., & Meigs, L. C. (2000). Late time behaviour of tracer test breakthrough curves. Water Resources Research, 36(12), 3467–3479. Scholar
  15. Jorgensen, D. G., & Petricola, M. (1995). Research borehole-geophysical logging in determining geohydrologic properties. Ground Water, 33(4), 589–596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kurikami, H., Takeuchi, R., & Yabuuchi, S. (2008). Scale effects and heterogeneity of hydraulic conductivity of sedimentary rocks at Horonobe URL site. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 2008(33), S37–S44. Scholar
  17. Maloszewski, P., & Zuber, A. (1985). On the theory of tracer experiments in fissured rocks with a porous matrix. Journal of Hydrology, 79, 333–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maloszewski, P., & Zuber, A. (1990). Mathematical modelling of tracer behaviour in short-term experiments in fissured rocks. Water Resources Research, 26(7), 1517–1528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mares, S., Zboril, A., & Kelly, W. E. (1994). Logging for the determination of aquifer hydraulic properties. The Log Analyst, 35(6), 28–36.Google Scholar
  20. Mathias, S. A., Butler, A. P., Peach, D. W., & Williams, A. T. (2007). Recovering tracer test input functions from fluid electrical conductivity logging in fractured porous rocks. Water Resources Research, 43, W07443. Scholar
  21. Moench, A. F. (1995). Convergent radial dispersion in a double-porosity aquifer with fracture skin: analytical solution and application to a field experiment in fractured chalk. Water Resources Research, 31(8), 1823–1835. Scholar
  22. National Research Council. (1996). Rock fractures and fluid flow; contemporary understanding and applications. Washington: National Academic Press.Google Scholar
  23. Pedler, W. H., Barvenik, M. J., Tsang, C. F., & Hale, F. V. (1990). Determination of bedrock hydraulic conductivity and hydrochemistry using a wellbore fluid profiling method. In Proceedings of the outdoor action conference 1990, NWWA (pp. 39–53).Google Scholar
  24. Repsold, H. (1989). Well logging in groundwater development international contributions to hydrogeology. Hannover: Verlag Heinz Heise.Google Scholar
  25. Riemann, K. (2002). Aquifer parameter estimation in fractured-rock aquifers using a combination of hydraulic and tracer tests. Ph.D., thesis. Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Geohydrology at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.Google Scholar
  26. Tang, D. H., Frind, E. O., & Sudicky, E. A. (1981). Contaminant transport in fractured porous media: Analytical solution for a single fracture. Water Resources Research, 17(3), 555–564. Scholar
  27. Tsang, C. F., Hufschmeid, P., & Hale, F. V. (1990). Determination of fracture inflow parameters with a borehole fluid conductivity profiling method. Water Resources Research, 26(4), 561–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Van Tonder, G. J., Botha, J. F., Chiang, W. H., Kunstmannb, H., & Xu, Y. (2001). Estimation of the sustainable yields of boreholes in fractured rock formations. Journal of Hydrology, 241, 70–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Van Wyk, A. E., Xu, Y., De Lange, S. S., Van Tonder, G. J., & Chiang, W. H. (2000). Utilization of tracer experiments for the development of rural water supply management strategies for secondary aquifers. Pretoria: Water Research Commission of South Africa Report.Google Scholar
  30. Wonik, T., & Hinsby, K. (2006). Borehole logging in hydrogeology. In R. Kirsch, H.-M. Rumpel, W. Scheer, & H. Wiederhold (Eds.), Groundwater resources in buried valleys—A challenge for geosciences (pp. 107–122). Hannover: Leibniz Institute for Applied Geosciences.Google Scholar
  31. Zimmerman, M. D., Bennett, P. C., Sharp Jr, J. M., & Choi, W. (2002). Experimental determination of sorption in fractured flow systems. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 58(1–2), 51–77. Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Institute for Groundwater StudiesUniversity of the Free StateBloemfonteinSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations