Combined interpretation of radar, hydraulic, and tracer data from a fractured-rock aquifer near Mirror Lake, New Hampshire, USA
An integrated interpretation of field experimental cross-hole radar, tracer, and hydraulic data demonstrates the value of combining time-lapse geophysical monitoring with conventional hydrologic measurements for improved characterization of a fractured-rock aquifer. Time-lapse difference-attenuation radar tomography was conducted during saline tracer experiments at the US Geological Survey Fractured Rock Hydrology Research Site near Mirror Lake, Grafton County, New Hampshire, USA. The presence of electrically conductive saline tracer effectively illuminates permeable fractures or pathways for geophysical imaging. The geophysical results guide the construction of three-dimensional numerical models of ground-water flow and solute transport. In an effort to explore alternative explanations for the tracer and tomographic data, a suite of conceptual models involving heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity fields and rate-limited mass transfer are considered. Calibration data include tracer concentrations, the arrival time of peak concentration at the outlet, and steady-state hydraulic head. Results from the coupled inversion procedure suggest that much of the tracer mass migrated outside the three tomographic image planes, and that solute is likely transported by two pathways through the system. This work provides basic and site-specific insights into the control of permeability heterogeneity on ground-water flow and solute transport in fractured rock.