Fractures as Carriers for Colloid and Nano-Particles

N. Weisbrod, M. Cohen, X. Tang, O. Zvikelsky, H. Meron

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


One of the major questions in studies in which transport of colloids and nano particles (NPs) is being explored is whether or not they will be mobile on large scales and in large conduits such as fractures and cracks. While many studies explore the migration on a small scale and mostly in ideal porous media, less is known about this topic on larger scales and in fractured rocks or cracked soils. Fractures are likely to be favorable carriers for colloids and NPs due to their large aperture, enabling relatively high flow velocity and smaller tortuosity of the flow path. Transport of various colloids including microspheres, clay particles and viruses, as well as colloid-facilitated transport of lead and cesium was explored in a naturally discrete fractured chalk cores. Preliminary work exploring the transport of NZVIs and TiO2 NPs is being carried out through these cores as well. Our results indicate very high recovery of large microspheres (0.2 and 1 micron) and lower recovery of the small spheres (0.02 micron). It was observed that clay particles, with similar surface properties and sizes to that of the microspheres, show significantly lower recoveries (50 vs over 90%), probably due to the high density of clay particles in respect to the microspheres (2.65 vs. 1.05 g/cm3). High recovery of bacteriophages was also observed, but they exhibit some differences in respect to microspheres with similar properties. In all cases, including the 0.02 micron colloids exhibiting lower recovery rates, arrival times were earlier than that of the bromide that was used as a reference. It was found that colloid-facilitated transport played a major role in the migration of lead and cesium through the fracture. In practice, lead was found to be mobile only in a colloidal form. The on-going work on NP transport through fractures is still in a preliminary phase. Nevertheless, TiO2 recovery was found to be very low. In conclusion, it was observed that in many cases fractures are favorable carriers for colloids and facilitate colloid-associated transport of contaminants with high affinity to the solid matrix. However, each colloid apparently needs to be explored separately, and more research is needed to quantify the transport of NZVIs and other NPs through fractures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • 1832 HYDROLOGY Groundwater transport
  • 1829 HYDROLOGY Groundwater hydrology
  • 1800 HYDROLOGY


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