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Colloid Mobilization and Transport during Capillary Fringe Fluctuations

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2014, 00:00 by Surachet Aramrak, Markus Flury, James B. Harsh, Richard L. Zollars
Capillary fringe fluctuations due to changing water tables lead to displacement of air–water interfaces in soils and sediments. These moving air–water interfaces can mobilize colloids. We visualized colloids interacting with moving air–water interfaces during capillary fringe fluctuations by confocal microscopy. We simulated capillary fringe fluctuations in a glass-bead-filled column. We studied four specific conditions: (1) colloids suspended in the aqueous phase, (2) colloids attached to the glass beads in an initially wet porous medium, (3) colloids attached to the glass beads in an initially dry porous medium, and (4) colloids suspended in the aqueous phase with the presence of a static air bubble. Confocal images confirmed that the capillary fringe fluctuations affect colloid transport behavior. Hydrophilic negatively charged colloids initially suspended in the aqueous phase were deposited at the solid–water interface after a drainage passage, but then were removed by subsequent capillary fringe fluctuations. The colloids that were initially attached to the wet or dry glass bead surface were detached by moving air–water interfaces in the capillary fringe. Hydrophilic negatively charged colloids did not attach to static air-bubbles, but hydrophobic negatively charged and hydrophilic positively charged colloids did. Our results demonstrate that capillary fringe fluctuations are an effective means for colloid mobilization.