The characterization of flow and transport processes in fractured rock is challenging because they cannot be observed directly and hydrologic tests can only provide sparse and local data. Time-lapse ground penetrating radar (GPR) can be a valuable tool to monitor such processes in the subsurface, but it requires highly reproducible data. As part of a tracer injection experiment at the Grimsel Test Site (GTS) in Switzerland, borehole reflection GPR data were acquired in a time-lapse survey to monitor saline tracer flow through a fracture network in crystalline rock. Because the reflections from the tracer in the sub-mm fractures appear extremely weak, a differencing approach has been necessary to identify the tracer signal. Furthermore, several processing steps and corrections had to be applied to meet the reproducibility requirements. These steps include (1) single-trace preprocessing, (2) temporal trace alignment, (3) correction of sampling rate fluctuations, (4) spatial trace alignment, (5) spike removal, and (6) postprocessing procedures applied to the difference images. This allowed successful tracer propagation monitoring with a clear signal that revealed two separate tracer flow paths. The GPR results are confirmed by conductivity meters that were placed in boreholes in the GTS. If sufficient data processing is applied, GPR is shown to be capable of resolving tracer flow through sub-mm aperture fractures by difference reflection imaging even in challenging surroundings where many reflectors are present.

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