Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing of Recharge Basin Percolation Dynamics

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 8:15 AM
Matthew Becker1, Emily Marie Allen1 and Adam Hutchinson2, (1)California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, United States, (2)Orange County Water District, Fountain Valley, CA, United States
Infiltration (spreading) basins are a central component of managed aquifer and recovery operations around the world. The concept is simple. Water is percolated into an aquifer where it can be withdrawn at a later date. However, managing infiltration basins can be complicated by entrapped air in sediments, strata of low permeability, clogging of the recharge surface, and biological growth, among other factors. Understanding the dynamics of percolation in light of these complicating factors provides a basis for making management decisions that increase recharge efficiency. As an aid to understanding percolation dynamics, fiber optic distribute temperature sensing (DTS) was used to track heat as a tracer of water movement in an infiltration basin. The diurnal variation of temperature in the basin was sensed at depth. The time lag between the oscillating temperature signal at the surface and at depth indicated the velocity of water percolation. DTS fiber optic cables were installed horizontally along the basin and vertically in boreholes to measure percolation behavior. The horizontal cable was installed in trenches at 0.3 and 1 m depth, and the vertical cable was installed using direct push technology. The vertical cable was tightly wound to produce a factor of 10 increase in spatial resolution of temperature measurements. Temperature was thus measured every meter across the basin and every 10 cm to a depth of 10 m. Data from the trenched cable suggested homogeneous percolation across the basin, but infiltration rates were a function of stage indicating non-ideal percolation. Vertical temperature monitoring showed significant lateral flow in sediments underlying the basin both during saturation and operation of the basin. Deflections in the vertical temperature profile corresponded with fine grained layers identified in core samples indicating a transient perched water table condition. The three-dimensional flow in this relatively homogenous surficial geology calls into question the relevance of simple wetting models for predicting percolation behavior in infiltration basins.