Evaluation of multidimensional transport through a field-scale compacted soil liner

Thomas W. Willingham, Charles J. Werth, Albert J. Valocchi, Ivan G. Krapac, Cécile Toupiol, Timothy D. Stark, David E. Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A field-scale compacted soil liner was constructed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Illinois State Geological Survey in 1988 to investigate chemical transport rates through low permeability compacted clay liners (CCLs). Four tracers (bromide and three benzoic acid tracers) were each added to one of four large ring infiltrometers (LRIs) while tritium was added to the pond water (excluding the infiltrometers). Results from the long-term transport of Br- from the localized source zone of LRI are presented in this paper. Core samples were taken radially outward from the center of the Br- LRI and concentration depth profiles were obtained. Transport properties were evaluated using an axially symmetric transport model. Results indicate that (1) transport was diffusion controlled; (2) transport due to advection was negligible and well within the regulatory limits of ksat≤1 × 10-7 cm/s; (3) diffusion rates in the horizontal and vertical directions were the same; and (4) small positioning errors due to compression during soil sampling did not affect the best fit advection and diffusion values. The best-fit diffusion coefficient for bromide was equal to the molecular diffusion coefficient multiplied by a tortuosity factor of 0.27, which is within 8% of the tortuosity factor (0.25) found in a related study where tritium transport through the same liner was evaluated. This suggests that the governing mechanisms for the transport of tritium and bromide through the CCL were similar. These results are significant because they address transport through a composite liner from a localized source zone which occurs when defects or punctures in the geomembrane of a composite system are present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-895
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)


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