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Characterising solute transport in undisturbed soil cores using electrical and x-ray tomographic methods.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date15/02/1999
JournalHydrological Processes
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish


Solute transport in undisturbed soil is a complex process and detailed information on the transport characteristics is needed to provide fundamental understanding of the processes involved. X-ray computer tomography (CT) and electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) have been used to gain information on the transport characteristics. Both methods are non-intrusive and do not disturb the soil, in contrast to other methods. CT provides high resolution information on bulk density and macropores, while ERT provides a three-dimensional image of the internal resistivity structure. By adding a suitable solute under steady-state flow, the internal resistivity changes can be interpreted as a change in resident concentrations. In our experiment two cores from different field sites were investigated. The ERT measurements revealed two transport modes (one fast and one slow) in one of the cores and only one mode in the other. This was consistent with the results of transfer function modelling on the independently measured breakthrough curves (BTCs). The fast transport mode is perhaps a result of many connected macropores, detected by CT, but this could not be verified with the ERT measurements because of the coarser resolution. However, with ERT in both cases we were able to explain the observed BTC qualitatively.