Recently, two Subsol related studies were accepted in peer-reviewed journals for publication. They are freely accessible online (click on the headings).
by K.G. Zuurbier and P.J. Stuyfzand
Abstract: Coastal aquifers and the deeper subsurface are increasingly exploited. The accompanying perforation of the subsurface for those purposes has increased the risk of short-circuiting of originally separated aquifers. This study shows how this short-circuiting negatively impacts the freshwater recovery efficiency (RE) during aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) in coastal aquifers. ASR was applied in a shallow saltwater aquifer overlying a deeper, confined saltwater aquifer, which was targeted for seasonal aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES). Although both aquifers were considered properly separated (i.e., a continuous clay layer prevented rapid groundwater flow between both aquifers), intrusion of deeper saltwater into the shallower aquifer quickly terminated the freshwater recovery. The presumable pathway was a nearby ATES borehole. This finding was supported by field measurements, hydrochemical analyses, and variable-density solute transport modeling (SEAWAT version 4; Langevin et al., 2007). The potentially rapid short-circuiting during storage and recovery can reduce the RE of ASR to null. When limited mixing with ambient groundwater is allowed, a linear RE decrease by short-circuiting with increasing distance from the ASR well within the radius of the injected ASR bubble was observed. Interception of deep short-circuiting water can mitigate the observed RE decrease, although complete compensation of the RE decrease will generally be unattainable. Brackish water upconing from the underlying aquitard towards the shallow recovery wells of the ASR system with multiple partially penetrating wells (MPPW-ASR) was observed. This leakage may lead to a lower recovery efficiency than based on current ASR performance estimations.
by: Pieter J. Stuyfzand, Ebel Smidt, Koen G. Zuurbier, Niels Hartog and Mohamed A. Dawoud
Abstract: To be able to overcome water shortages, Abu Dhabi Emirate started an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project with desalinated seawater (DSW) as source water near Liwa. It is the largest DSW-ASR project in the world (stored volume ~10 Mm3/year), and should recover potable water for direct use. DSW is infiltrated into a desert dune sand aquifer using “sand-covered gravel-bed” recharge basins. In this study, we evaluate the hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical stratification of the (sub)oxic target aquifer, and water quality changes of DSW during trial infiltration runs. We predict water quality changes of DSW after 824 d of infiltration, during 90 d of intensive recovery (67% recovered) without storage (scenario A), as well as after 10 years of storage (scenario B, with significant bubble drift). Monitoring of preceding trials revealed a lack of redox reactions; little carbonate dissolution and Ca/Na exchange; much SiO2 dissolution; a strong mobilization of natural AsO43−, B, Ba, F, CrO42−, Mo, Sr and V from the (sub)oxic aquifer; and immobilization of PO4, Al, Cu, Fe and Ni from DSW. The Easy-Leacher model was applied in forward and reverse mode including lateral bubble drift, to predict water quality of the recovered water. We show that hydrogeochemical modeling of a complex ASR-system can be relatively easy and straightforward, if aquifer reactivity is low and redox reactions can be ignored. The pilot observations and modeling results demonstrate that in scenario A recovered water quality still complies with Abu Dhabi’s drinking water standards (even up to 85% recovery). For scenario B, however, the recovery efficiency declines to 60% after which various drinking water standards are exceeded, especially the one for chromium.