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Tracer Test Course


Chris­t­ian Wolk­ers­dor­fer | Tshwane Uni­ver­si­ty of Tech­nol­o­gy (TUT)
Elke Mugo­va| Forum Berg­bau und Wass­er

What are Tracer tests

Trac­er tests are a means of inves­ti­gat­ing the flow and hydro­dy­nam­ic prop­er­ties of ground­wa­ter or sur­face water. They have been an estab­lished tech­nique in hydro­log­i­cal and hydro­ge­o­log­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tions for over a cen­tu­ry and are an impor­tant tool in water-relat­ed inves­ti­ga­tions. There are two gen­er­al types of trac­er tests com­mon­ly used today: nat­ur­al trac­er tests and arti­fi­cial trac­er tests. In the first case, sub­stances already present in the water are analysed and the results are inter­pret­ed. In the sec­ond case, a sub­stance is inject­ed into the water and its time–concentration devel­op­ment is used to char­ac­terise the water flow. This course will focus on both gen­er­al aspects of trac­er tests and the spe­cif­ic require­ments for mine water trac­er tests.

Course Contents

  • Intro­duc­tion
  • Trac­er types
    • Nat­ur­al
    • Arti­fi­cial
  • Prepa­ra­tion of Trac­er tests
  • Legal Questions/Permission
  • Imple­men­ta­tion
  • Eval­u­a­tion
  • Exam­ples
    • Surface/Ground Water
    • Mine Water

The first part of the course is an intro­duc­tion to trac­er tests. This intro­duc­tion pro­vides an overview of the use of trac­ers and the ques­tions that can be answered by trac­er tests. The intro­duc­tion also cov­ers the dif­fer­ences between nat­ur­al and arti­fi­cial trac­er tests and which sub­stances can be used in each case. Most of the trac­ers used as nat­ur­al or arti­fi­cial trac­ers will be intro­duced and their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages as well as the require­ments for their use will be dis­cussed. In addi­tion, the course will out­line which ana­lyt­i­cal tech­niques should be used to iden­ti­fy these trac­ers.

Planning and Preparation

The key to a suc­cess­ful trac­er test is thor­ough plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion of the test. There­fore, the course will intro­duce the neces­si­ties for a suc­cess­ful trac­er test, such as select­ing the appro­pri­ate trac­er, cal­cu­lat­ing the amount of trac­er to be used, accu­rate selec­tion of sam­pling sites and gen­er­al require­ments. A brief intro­duc­tion to the legal require­ments for con­duct­ing a trac­er test will also be giv­en. After a suc­cess­ful trac­er test, eval­u­a­tion of the data is essen­tial, there­fore the course will exam­ine dif­fer­ent tech­niques for eval­u­at­ing trac­er test results and break­through curves. The dif­fer­ent tech­niques will be dis­cussed and the advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages of these meth­ods will be out­lined.

Case Studies

At the end of the course, sev­er­al case stud­ies will be pre­sent­ed. The case stud­ies are the three typ­i­cal sit­u­a­tions for trac­er tests: sur­face water, flow, and mine water trac­er tests.