A review of non-invasive imaging methods and applications in contaminant hydrogeology research

Charles J. Werth, Changyong Zhang, Mark L Brusseau, Mart Oostrom, Thomas Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

116 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Contaminant hydrogeological processes occurring in porous media are typically not amenable to direct observation. As a result, indirect measurements (e.g., contaminant breakthrough at a fixed location) are often used to infer processes occurring at different scales, locations, or times. To overcome this limitation, non-invasive imaging methods are increasingly being used in contaminant hydrogeology research. Four of the most common methods, and the subjects of this review, are optical imaging using UV or visible light, dual-energy gamma radiation, X-ray microtomography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Non-invasive imaging techniques have provided valuable insights into a variety of complex systems and processes, including porous media characterization, multiphase fluid distribution, fluid flow, solute transport and mixing, colloidal transport and deposition, and reactions. In this paper we review the theory underlying these methods, applications of these methods to contaminant hydrogeology research, and methods' advantages and disadvantages. As expected, there is no perfect method or tool for non-invasive imaging. However, optical methods generally present the least expensive and easiest options for imaging fluid distribution, solute and fluid flow, colloid transport, and reactions in artificial two-dimensional (2D) porous media. Gamma radiation methods present the best opportunity for characterization of fluid distributions in 2D at the Darcy scale. X-ray methods present the highest resolution and flexibility for three-dimensional (3D) natural porous media characterization, and 3D characterization of fluid distributions in natural porous media. And MRI presents the best option for 3D characterization of fluid distribution, fluid flow, colloid transport, and reaction in artificial porous media. Obvious deficiencies ripe for method development are the ability to image transient processes such as fluid flow and colloid transport in natural porous media in three dimensions, the ability to image many reactions of environmental interest in artificial and natural porous media, and the ability to image selected processes over a range of scales in artificial and natural porous media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Volume113
Issue number1-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

Fingerprint

Hydrogeology
imaging method
hydrogeology
Porous materials
porous medium
Impurities
Imaging techniques
pollutant
fluid flow
Flow of fluids
Colloids
colloid
Fluids
fluid
Magnetic resonance
Gamma rays
Solute transport
X rays
optical method
method

Keywords

  • Contaminant hydrogeology
  • Imaging
  • Non-invasive
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

A review of non-invasive imaging methods and applications in contaminant hydrogeology research. / Werth, Charles J.; Zhang, Changyong; Brusseau, Mark L; Oostrom, Mart; Baumann, Thomas.

In: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, Vol. 113, No. 1-4, 01.04.2010, p. 1-24.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Werth, Charles J. ; Zhang, Changyong ; Brusseau, Mark L ; Oostrom, Mart ; Baumann, Thomas. / A review of non-invasive imaging methods and applications in contaminant hydrogeology research. In: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. 2010 ; Vol. 113, No. 1-4. pp. 1-24.
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