Institute for Mediterranean Studies
Olive-oil mill wastewater transport under unsaturated and saturated laboratory conditions using the geoelectrical resistivity tomography method and the FEFLOW model
2013

An integrated approach for monitoring the vertical transport of a solute into the subsurface by using a geophysical method and a simulation model is proposed and evaluated. A medium-scale (1m3) laboratory tank experiment was constructed to represent a real subsurface system, where an olive-oil mill wastewater (OOMW) spill might occur. High-resolution cross-hole electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) was performed to monitor the OOMW transport. Time-lapse ERT images defined the spatial geometry of the interface between the contaminated and uncontaminated soil into the unsaturated and saturated zones. Knowing the subsurface characteristics, the finite element flow and transport model FEFLOW was used for simulating the contaminant movement, utilizing the ERT results as a surrogate for concentration measurements for the calibration process. A statistical analysis of the ERT measurements and the corresponding transport model results for various time steps showed a good agreement between them. In addition, a sensitivity analysis of the most important parameters of the simulation model (unsaturated flow, saturated flow and transport) was performed. This laboratory-scale study emphasizes that the combined use of geophysical and transportmodeling approaches can be useful for small-scale field applications where contaminant concentration measurements are scarce, provided that its transferability from laboratory to field conditions is investigated thoroughly.

https://doi.org/10.1007/s10040-013-0996-x