An analytical model for the interpretation of pulse injection experiments performed for testing the spatial variability of clay formations

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This paper presents an analytical model to describe pulse injection experiments. This model solves the advection–diffusion equation while taking into account back diffusion from the clay core to the inlet and from the outlet to the clay core. In most analytical models, back diffusion is neglected. For sufficiently high Pe´clet numbers, this is a good approximation. However, in experiments where the Pe´clet number is low, back diffusion is important and must be taken into
account. An additional advantage of the present model is that both concentration and flux are conserved at the inlet and at the outlet of the clay core. This model is used to fit pulse injection experiments with iodide and tritiated water (HTO) in clay cores. The (new) model is required for fitting the experimental results since in clay layers advection is very slow leading to a low Pe´clet number. The experiments are performed on clay cores taken from
different depths from the Boom Clay and the Ypres Clay layer under the site of the nuclear power plant of Doel (Belgium). The quality of all fits is excellent and the obtained parameter values are coherent. For HTO, the fitted value for the diffusion accessible porosity is consistent with measurements of the water content in Ypres Clay cores. In both types of clays, the apparent diffusion
coefficient at zero flow is between 10 10 and 210 10 m2/s for iodide and between 210 10 and 310 10 m2/s for HTO. The dispersion length is in the order of 10 3 m. The average value for the diffusion accessible porosity is between 0.35 and 0.4 for HTO and between 0.2 and 0.25 for iodide


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-436
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003


  • Analytical model, Pulse injection experiment, Advection – diffusion equation, Radioactive waste management, Hydraulic conductivity, Diffusion accessible porosity, Boom Clay, Ypres Clay

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