Profiles of chloride in matrix porewater as natural tracer for matrix diffusion in crystalline rocks

Eichinger, F.; Gimmi, T.; Möri, A.; Rüedi, J. (2020). Profiles of chloride in matrix porewater as natural tracer for matrix diffusion in crystalline rocks. Applied geochemistry, 118, p. 104635. Elsevier 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2020.104635

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Matrix porewater from low permeable Grimsel granodiorite was successfully characterised using indirect methods applied to originally saturated core samples. Core samples were taken from a 17 m long borehole originating from a tunnel of the Grimsel Test Site into the crystalline bedrock intersecting a tectonic shear zone with a water-conducting fracture. Matrix porewater chloride profiles on the meter scale were determined on both sides of the water-conducting fracture. To evaluate transport processes within the bedrock formation, a series of diffusive model calculations were performed, which to fit the porewater data. Boundary and initial conditions were varied according to the geological conditions, whereas other required parameters such as the connected porosity and pore diffusion coefficients were determined by laboratory experiments on the cores and extrapo- lated to in situ conditions. The main conclusions can be summarized as follows: (1) Chloride porewater profiles at the meter scale can be simulated using diffusive transport models. This provides evidence that diffusive exchange with active fractures occurs over a range of a few meters in the low-permeable crystalline bedrock; (2) the best fit of the diffusion profile was achieved by a model approach, which takes asymmetric initial Cl-concentrations into account. This indicates that prior to the activation of the present water-conducting fracture, the porewater system in the bedrock was already active showing a concentration gradient in chloride; (3) the water-conducting fracture was activated at least between 850 and 1700 years before present, with a best-fit 1200 years before present; and (4) the hydraulic were affected by the construction of the rock laboratory 20 years ago, resulting in a rapid dilution of the fracture groundwater by advection.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Rock-Water Interaction

UniBE Contributor:

Eichinger, Florian, Gimmi, Thomas, Möri, Andreas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology










Thomas Gimmi

Date Deposited:

09 Feb 2021 17:05

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:43

Publisher DOI:





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