Strontium and caesium transport in unsaturated soil from Chernobyl Pilot Site under steady flow conditions.
Stéphanie SZENCKNECT, doctorate thesis of the University of Grenoble I - Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Hydraulique et de Mécanique de Grenoble - France, defended on the 7th October 2003
This work is devoted to the quantification and the identification of the predominant processes involved in strontium and caesium transport in unsaturated soil from Chernobyl Pilot Site under steady flow conditions. The transport and fate of radionuclides in the subsurface is affected by various physical and chemical processes including advective and diffusive transport as well as chemical and biological transformations.
Laboratory experiments and the use of a multiple tracer approach allow to isolate the contributions of each elementar process and to control the physico-chemical conditions in the system. To be more representative of the field conditions, we decided to perform column miscible displacement experiments. We perform batch and flow-through reactor experiments to characterize the radionuclides sorption mechanisms.
Miscible displacement experiments within homogeneous columns and modeling allow to characterize the hydrodynamic properties of the soil and to describe the radionuclides behaviour under dynamic conditions at different water contents. We show that the water content of porous media affect the transport behaviour of inert and strongly sorbing radionuclides. Our results demonstrate that a parametrised transport model that was calibrated under completely saturated conditions was not able to describe the advective-dispersive transport of reactive solutes under unsaturated steady state conditions. Under our experimental conditions, there is no effect of a decrease of the mean water content on the sorption model parameters, but the transport parameters are modified. We established for the studied soil the relation between hydrodynamic dispersion and water content and the relation between pore water velocity and water content.