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Salinity dependence of spectral induced polarization in sands and sandstones

Abstract : In electrolyte-saturated sands, the reversible storage of electrical charges is responsible for a phase lag between the current (injected and retrieved by two current electrodes) and the electrical field recorded by two voltage electrodes. This phenomenon is called 'spectral induced polarization' in geophysics and can potentially be used to monitor salt tracer tests in shallow aquifers to infer their permeability and dispersivity tensors. We demonstrate analytically that the polarization of the inner part of the electrical triple layer coating the surface of the grains (named the Stern layer in electrochemistry) is consistent with available data. We also perform new experiments using silica sands saturated by NaCl and CaCl2 pore water solutions. The salinity dependence of quadrature conductivity can be modelled using an analytical solution of the triple layer model, which offers a simple way to interpret laboratory and field data. This analytical solution depends on the total site density of the mineral surface, the pH value and the sorption coefficient of the cation in the Stern layer. This model shows that both the specific surface conductivity of the Stern layer and the quadrature conductivity of the porous material depend on the conductivity of the pore water. The quadrature conductivity is becoming independent of the salinity above 1 S m−1. The parameters entering the analytical model are consistent with independent estimates from titration data and zeta potential measurements, which are two classical methods to characterize the electrical triple layer at the pore water mineral interface.
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André Revil, Magnus Skold. Salinity dependence of spectral induced polarization in sands and sandstones. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2011, 187 (2), pp.813-824. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05181.x⟩. ⟨insu-00681413⟩



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