Sandstones of unexpectedly high diffusibility

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Measurements have been made of diffusion coefficients (D(i)=-mass flux/concentration gradient) using a double reservoir, steady-state method with two tracers, CaBr(2) and amino-G-acid, on intact samples of Triassic red-bed sandstone from northwest England. Diffusibility (D'=D(i)/diffusion coefficient in water) averages 0.124, ranging between 0.075 and 0.215 (porosity 0.1 to 0.24), very similar for the two tracers. Implied tortuosities (actual path length/straight line length) average 1.21 (range 1.06 to 1.47), with constrictivities close to 1. In comparison with limited red-bed sandstone data from elsewhere, these D' values are up to 4 times greater, and tortuosity correspondingly lower. Re-interpretation of formation factor data from previous studies on shallow sandstone samples also from northwest England confirms that diffusibility is significantly higher in these sandstones than others from similar palaeoenvironment/stratigraphic units. The lower tortuosities appear to result from the relatively high permeability, open fabric of the rock, properties likely to be present in shallow sandstone systems used for water supply. It is concluded that diffusion rates may, in some shallow freshwater-containing continental sandstone systems, be significantly greater than is implied by estimates of sandstone diffusibility current in the literature.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-52
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011