American Chemical Society
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Transport and Attenuation of Particles of Different Density and Surface Charge: A Karst Aquifer Field Study

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-06-27, 00:00 authored by Ferry Schiperski, Johannes Zirlewagen, Traugott Scheytt
Although karst aquifers are far more susceptible to contamination than porous aquifers, with the transport of particulate matter being an important factor, little is known about the attenuation of solutes within karst aquifers and even less about the attenuation of particulate matter. These in situ investigations have therefore aimed to systematically identify the processes that influence the transport and attenuation of particles within a karst aquifer through multitracer testing, using four different types of 1 μm fluorescent particles and the fluorescent dye uranine. Each of the types of particles used were detected at the observed spring, which drains the investigated aquifer. However, the transport behavior varied significantly between the various particles and the uranine dye, with the breakthrough of particles occurring slightly earlier than that of uranine. Attenuation was determined from the tracer recovery and attributed to filtration processes. These processes were affected by the hydrophobicity and surface charge of the particles. Carboxylated polystyrene particles with a density and surface charge comparable to pathogenic microorganisms were found to be mobile in groundwater over a distance of about 3 km. No attenuation was observed for plain silica particles. Particles with these characteristics thus pose a major threat to karst spring water as they might occur as contaminants themselves or facilitate the transport of other contaminants.