Heat and mass transport during a groundwater replenishment trial in a highly heterogeneous aquifer
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Changes in subsurface temperature distribution resulting from the injection of fluids into aquifers may impact physiochemical and microbial processes as well as basin resource management strategies. We have completed a 2 year field trial in a hydrogeologically and geochemically heterogeneous aquifer below Perth, Western Australia in which highly treated wastewater was injected for large-scale groundwater replenishment. During the trial, chloride and temperature data were collected from conventional monitoring wells and by time-lapse temperature logging. We used a joint inversion of these solute tracer and temperature data to parameterize a numerical flow and multispecies transport model and to analyze the solute and heat propagation characteristics that prevailed during the trial. The simulation results illustrate that while solute transport is largely confined to the most permeable lithological units, heat transport was also affected by heat exchange with lithological units that have a much lower hydraulic conductivity. Heat transfer by heat conduction was found to significantly influence the complex temporal and spatial temperature distribution, especially with growing radial distance and in aquifer sequences with a heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity distribution. We attempted to estimate spatially varying thermal transport parameters during the data inversion to illustrate the anticipated correlations of these parameters with lithological heterogeneities, but estimates could not be uniquely determined on the basis of the collected data.
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