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Abstract

The Permo-Triassic sandstones are geographically and lithologically diverse, and exhibit large variations in porosity (ф), pore-throat size, gas permeability (k) and mineral phases. These parameters influence considerably the flow and transport of contaminants. The aquifer is susceptible to contamination by a range of pollutants from both contemporary and historic sources as it outcrops in a number of large industrial towns. One such class of pollutants are chlorinated hydrocarbons, which have been used extensively for years in dry-cleaning and metal degreasing. The physical, chemical and biological properties of these dense non-aqueous-phase liquids (DNAPLs) make them a particular cause of groundwater contamination. Standard physical property measurements, along with a weak nitric acid extraction to determine dominant minerals, were carried out on consolidated sandstones. A laboratory method was developed to produce pressure–saturation curves for a DNAPL–water-sandstone system. Entry pressures were found to be lower than predicted from theoretical considerations, which could be explained in part by the relative amounts of calcite and dolomite present in the pore space. Calculations on relative permeability show that at roughly 60% DNAPL saturation no water flow occurs. Understanding the controls on DNAPL transport can greatly assist the need for appropriate remedial action.

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