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Institut für Wasser- und Umweltsystemmodellierung - IWS



"Monitoring the Injection of Microscale Zerovalent Iron Particles for Groundwater Remediation by Means of Complex Electrical Conductivity Imaging"

The injection of microscale zerovalent iron (mZVI) particles for groundwater remediation has received much interest in recent years. However, to date, monitoring of mZVI particle injection is based on chemical analysis of groundwater and soil samples and thus might be limited in its spatiotemporal resolution. To overcome this deficiency, in this study, we investigate the application of complex electrical conductivity imaging, a geophysical method, to monitor the high-pressure injection of mZVI in a field-scale application. The resulting electrical images revealed an increase in the induced electrical polarization (∼20%), upon delivery of ZVI into the targeted area, due to the accumulation of metallic surfaces at which the polarization takes place. Furthermore, larger changes (>50%) occurred in shallow sediments, a few meters away from the injection, suggesting the migration of particles through preferential flowpaths. Correlation of the electrical response and geochemical data, in particular the analysis of recovered cores from drilling after the injection, confirmed the migration of particles (and stabilizing solution) to shallow areas through fractures formed during the injection. Hence, our results demonstrate the suitability of the complex conductivity imaging method to monitor the transport of mZVI during subsurface amendment in quasi real-time.