Effect of injection water ionic strength on estimating hydraulic parameters in a 3D sand tank using silica encapsulated magnetic DNA particles

Swagatam Chakraborty*, Rayan Elhaj, Jan Willem Foppen, Jack Schijven

*Corresponding author for this work

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We investigated the applicability of Silica encapsulated, superparamagnetic DNA particles (SiDNAmag) in determining aquifer hydraulic parameters at different ionic strengths (1 mM, 5 mM, and 20 mM phosphate buffer) of injection suspension. Thereto, in a homogeneous, unconsolidated sand tank we pulse - injected two uniquely sequenced SiDNAmag at two injection points. At 0.5 m and 0.8 m downstream from the injection points, we measured the concentration of SiDNAmags at three vertically distributed and two horizontally distributed sampling locations. We estimated the hydraulic parameter distributions from the SiDNAmag breakthrough curves through a Monte – Carlo approach and compared the parameter distributions with salt tracer breakthrough curves. Our results indicated that at all the ionic strengths, the times of peak concentrations, and the shapes of the breakthrough curves were similar to the salt tracer. As compared to the salt, a 1 – 3 log units reduction in the maximum effluent concentration of SiDNAmag was due to kinetic attachment. The attachment rate reduced from 1 mM to 5 mM phosphate buffer possibly due to competitive adsorption of phosphate onto the favourable attachment sites. SiDNAmag attachment rate further increased in 20 mM buffer suspension, possibly due to the compression of electric double layer and reduction in energy barrier for attachment. The parameter distributions of hydraulic conductivity (k), effective porosity (ne), longitudinal dispersivity (αL), vertical transverse dispersivity (αTVL) and horizontal transverse dispersivity (αTHL) estimated from the SiDNAmag and the salt tracer breakthrough curves were statistically similar. Our work contributes to the applicability of colloidal SiDNAmags for determining hydraulic parameters at different ionic strength conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104507
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Colloids
  • Effective porosity
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Longitudinal dispersivity
  • Sand tank

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