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In-well time-of-travel approach to evaluate optimal purge duration during low-flow sampling of monitoring wells

March 1, 2017

A common assumption with groundwater sampling is that low (<0.5 L/min) pumping rates during well purging and sampling captures primarily lateral flow from the formation through the well-screened interval at a depth coincident with the pump intake. However, if the intake is adjacent to a low hydraulic conductivity part of the screened formation, this scenario will induce vertical groundwater flow to the pump intake from parts of the screened interval with high hydraulic conductivity. Because less formation water will initially be captured during pumping, a substantial volume of water already in the well (preexisting screen water or screen storage) will be captured during this initial time until inflow from the high hydraulic conductivity part of the screened formation can travel vertically in the well to the pump intake. Therefore, the length of the time needed for adequate purging prior to sample collection (called optimal purge duration) is controlled by the in-well, vertical travel times. A preliminary, simple analytical model was used to provide information on the relation between purge duration and capture of formation water for different gross levels of heterogeneity (contrast between low and high hydraulic conductivity layers). The model was then used to compare these time–volume relations to purge data (pumping rates and drawdown) collected at several representative monitoring wells from multiple sites. Results showed that computation of time-dependent capture of formation water (as opposed to capture of preexisting screen water), which were based on vertical travel times in the well, compares favorably with the time required to achieve field parameter stabilization. If field parameter stabilization is an indicator of arrival time of formation water, which has been postulated, then in-well, vertical flow may be an important factor at wells where low-flow sampling is the sample method of choice.

Publication Year 2017
Title In-well time-of-travel approach to evaluate optimal purge duration during low-flow sampling of monitoring wells
DOI 10.1007/s12665-017-6561-5
Authors Philip T. Harte
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Earth Sciences
Index ID 70195175
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New England Water Science Center