Interpretation of tracer displacement during infiltration of river water to groundwater Academic Article uri icon


  • The accidental release of a tritium pulse of about 500 Ci into a river in northern Switzerland allowed the measurement of travel times at a site where the river recharges a granular aquifer almost perpendicularly to the groundwater flow. A series of sampling wells had been previously installed in the aquifer. Most wells give access to shallow freshly infiltrated water. The infiltrated water flows along in the top layer of the aquifer, thus allowing for a one‐dimensional analysis of the spreading process from the river to the groundwater in the wells. The linear groundwater flow velocities calculated from the tritium responses at distances from the river of up to 500 m confirm the velocities determined from an earlier local‐scale uranine experiment at the same site. The scarce data used to describe tracer transport in the aquifer allowed for an assessment of dispersivity with the method of moments. A linearly scale‐dependent dispersivity is evaluated from the mode of increase of the temporal variance of the tracer concentration distribution. Some wells revealed bimodal responses; here the method of moments is applied in combination with a two‐layer model. Copyright 1987 by the American Geophysical Union.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hoehn, E., & Santschi, P. H.

citation count

  • 27

publication date

  • April 1987