Research Results of the
Department of Hydrogeology and Environment

Institute of Geology at the University of Würzburg, Germany
Contaminant diffusion and sorption of an artificial leachate in selected geologic barriers of Frankonia, Bavaria, Germany

Uwe Kackstätter

The geologic barrier represents the final contact between a landfill and the environment. Ideally suited are clays and mudstones because of sufficient vertical and lateral extent, low hydraulic conductivities and high sorptive characteristics. Since hydraulic conductivity is no longer the single criteria to determine transport and retardation of contaminants in geologic landfill barrier materials, diffusive and sorptive characteristics of 4 different clay and mudstone lithologies in Northern Bavaria, were investigated. Cored samples from various depths were included in this study and subjected to evaluations of geochemistry, mineralogy, physical parameters, sorption and diffusion. A transient double reservoir with decreasing source concentration was designed and constructed using clear polycarbonate cylinders for undisturbed clay plugs of 2 to 4cm thickness. Samples were also fitted with internal electrical conductivity probes to determine the migration of the diffusive front. A multi chemical species synthetic landfill leachate was contrived to simulate and evaluate natural pollutant conditions. A computational method for determining mineralogy from geochemical data was also developed. It was found that sorptive processes are mostly controlled by the quality and type of fine grained phyllosilicates and the individual chemical species involved exhibited linear, Freundlich, as well as Langmuir sorption properties. Effective diffusion and sorption coefficients were also determined using POLLUTEv6 (GAEA, 1997) software and receptor reservoir concentrations for K, Na, Ca, Cu, NH4, Cl, NO3, SO4, and concentration totals at predetermined time intervals. Anion exclusion proved to be a major factor in the diffusion process and was used to explain many observed anomalies. Furthermore, diffusion coefficients were found not to be static with a multi chemical species leachate, but actually varied during the course of the experiment. Strong indications point toward the major role of pore space quality, shape, and form as control of diffusive properties of a geologic barrier. A correlation of CECNa of the samples with De may point to a possible deduction of diffusive properties for multi species leachates without extensive and time consuming laboratory tests.

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