Migration of saline solutions in variably saturated porous media

Noam Weisbrod, Michael R. Niemet, Mark L. Rockhold, Thomas McGinnis, John S. Selker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Scopus citations


    Migration of concentrated NaNO3 solutions in homogeneous packs of pre-wetted silica sands was investigated using a light transmission system. Solutions of 5 molal NaNO3 were found to migrate downward 24-62% faster than pure water, in an unstable, fingered manner. This behavior was attributed primarily to a surface tension induced, non-zero apparent contact angle between the imbibing and the resident fluids. For saline solutions of similar surface tension to that of pure water (achieved by the addition of 2% methanol), the migration rates and plume shapes were comparable to that of water, demonstrating that density was not the primary source of the observed differences in migration patterns. At depths where resident saturation increased above residual, the migration process appeared to occur via film flow with slight changes in saturation (<4%), rather than in a series of abrupt jumps, as observed at shallower depths. A method for contact angle scaling was used to illustrate the effects of non-zero contact angles on capillary pressure-saturation curves.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-133
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
    Issue number1-4
    StatePublished - 1 Aug 2004


    • Capillary forces
    • Contact angle
    • Film flow
    • Interfacial tension
    • Moisture content
    • Saltwater

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Water Science and Technology


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