Identifiability of diffusion and sorption parameters from in situ diffusion experiments by using simultaneously tracer dilution and claystone data

Naves, Acacia; Samper, Javier; Gimmi, Thomas (2012). Identifiability of diffusion and sorption parameters from in situ diffusion experiments by using simultaneously tracer dilution and claystone data. Journal of contaminant hydrology, 142-143, pp. 63-74. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2012.09.005

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In situ diffusion experiments are performed in geological formations at underground research laboratories to overcome the limitations of laboratory diffusion experiments and investigate scale effects. Tracer concentrations are monitored at the injection interval during the experiment (dilution data) and measured from host rock samples around the injection interval at the end of the experiment (overcoring data). Diffusion and sorption parameters are derived from the inverse numerical modeling of the measured tracer data. The identifiability and the uncertainties of tritium and Na-22(+) diffusion and sorption parameters are studied here by synthetic experiments having the same characteristics as the in situ diffusion and retention (DR) experiment performed on Opalinus Clay. Contrary to previous identifiability analyses of in situ diffusion experiments, which used either dilution or overcoring data at approximate locations, our analysis of the parameter identifiability relies simultaneously on dilution and overcoring data, accounts for the actual position of the overcoring samples in the claystone, uses realistic values of the standard deviation of the measurement errors, relies on model identification criteria to select the most appropriate hypothesis about the existence of a borehole disturbed zone and addresses the effect of errors in the location of the sampling profiles. The simultaneous use of dilution and overcoring data provides accurate parameter estimates in the presence of measurement errors, allows the identification of the right hypothesis about the borehole disturbed zone and diminishes other model uncertainties such as those caused by errors in the volume of the circulation system and the effective diffusion coefficient of the filter. The proper interpretation of the experiment requires the right hypothesis about the borehole disturbed zone. A wrong assumption leads to large estimation errors. The use of model identification criteria helps in the selection of the best model. Small errors in the depth of the overcoring samples lead to large parameter estimation errors. Therefore, attention should be paid to minimize the errors in positioning the depth of the samples. The results of the identifiability analysis do not depend on the particular realization of random numbers. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Gimmi, Thomas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Thomas Gimmi

Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2014 11:55

Last Modified:

02 Jan 2015 18:39

Publisher DOI:





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