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Journal Articles Groundwater Year : 2021

Heat Tracing in a Fractured Aquifer with Injection of Hot and Cold Water


Heat as a tracer in fractured porous aquifers is more sensitive to fracture-matrix processes than a solute tracer. Temperature evolution as a function of time can be used to differentiate fracture and matrix characteristics. Experimental hot (50 • C) and cold (10 • C) water injections were performed in a weathered and fractured granite aquifer where the natural background temperature is 30 • C. The tailing of the hot and cold breakthrough curves, observed under different hydraulic conditions, was characterized in a log-log plot of time vs. normalized temperature difference, also converted to a residence time distribution (normalized). Dimensionless tail slopes close to 1.5 were observed for hot and cold breakthrough curves, compared to solute tracer tests showing slopes between 2 and 3. This stronger thermal diffusive behavior is explained by heat conduction. Using a process-based numerical model, the impact of heat conduction toward and from the porous rock matrix on groundwater heat transport was explored. Fracture aperture was adjusted depending on the actual hydraulic conditions. Water density and viscosity were considered temperature dependent. The model simulated the increase or reduction of the energy level in the fracture-matrix system and satisfactorily reproduced breakthrough curves tail slopes. This study shows the feasibility and utility of cold water tracer tests in hot fractured aquifers to boost and characterize the thermal matrix diffusion from the matrix toward the flowing groundwater in the fractures. This can be used as complementary information to solute tracer tests that are largely influenced by strong advection in the fractures.


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hal-03475755 , version 1 (11-12-2021)



Richard Hoffmann, Jean-Christophe Maréchal, Adrien Selles, Alain Dassargues, Pascal Goderniaux. Heat Tracing in a Fractured Aquifer with Injection of Hot and Cold Water. Groundwater, 2021, ⟨10.1111/gwat.13138⟩. ⟨hal-03475755⟩
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