Water vapor transport in the vicinity of imbibing saline plumes: Homogeneous and layered unsaturated porous media

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

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    12 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Water vapor transport in the vicinity of imbibing saline solutions was investigated in two-dimensional (2-D) chambers using a light transmission technique. Concentrated NaNO3 solutions (brines) were applied as point sources to the surface of homogenous packs of prewetted silica sand for four different sand grades. The same solutions were applied to layered systems, where two horizontal fine layers were embedded within a coarser matrix, mimicking stratified sedimentary deposits. Water vapor transport from the residually saturated sand into the imbibing brine was observed in all sand grades and geometries. Pure water applied to sand prewetted with brine migrated into the surrounding residual brine. Water vapor stripping was found to enhance the lateral transport of brine in layered sand, where capillary barrier effects play a major role. Our observations suggest that osmotic potential and vapor density lowering in saline solutions, often neglected in predictive models, should be taken into account when predicting the transport of brines in the vadose zone.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)TNN21-TNN28
    JournalWater Resources Research
    Volume39
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003

    Keywords

    • Brine
    • Layered porous media
    • Osmotic potential
    • Saline solution
    • Unsaturated zone
    • Vapor transport

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