LNAPL transmissivity as a remediation metric in complex sites under water table fluctuations

E. Gatsios, J. García-Rincón, J. L. Rayner, R.G. McLaughlan, G. B. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Water table fluctuations affect the recoverability of light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) petroleum hydrocarbons. LNAPL transmissivity (Tn) is being applied as an improved metric for LNAPL recoverability. In this paper, the applicability of Tn as a lagging and leading metric in unconsolidated aquifers under variable water table conditions was investigated. Tn values obtained through baildown testing and recovery data-based methods (skimming) were compared in three areas of a heterogeneous gasoline contaminated site in Western Australia. High-resolution characterisation methods were applied to account for differences in the stratigraphic profile and LNAPL distribution. The results showed a range of Tn from 0 m2/day to 2.13 m2/day, exhibiting a strong spatial and temporal variability. Additionally, observations indicated that Tn reductions may be more affected by the potentiometric surface elevation (Zaw) than by the application of mass recovery technologies. These observations reflected limitations of Tn as a lagging metric and a Remedial Endpoint. On the other hand, the consistency and accuracy of Tn as a leading metric was affected by the subsurface conditions. For instance, the area with a larger vertical LNAPL distribution and higher LNAPL saturations found Tn to be less sensitive to changes in Zaw than the other two areas during the skimming trials. Tn values from baildown and skimming tests were generally in a close agreement (less than a factor of 2 difference), although higher discrepancies (by a factor up to 7.3) were found, probably linked to a preferential migration pathway and Zaw. Under stable Zaw, Tn was found to be a relatively reliable metric. However, variable water table conditions affected Tn and caution should be exercised in such scenarios. Consequently, remediation practitioners, researchers and regulators should account for the nexus between Tn, LNAPL distribution, geological setting and temporal effects for a more efficient and sustainable management of complex contaminated sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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