U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



GROUND WATER 49(4); pp. 515–524 (July-August 2011) ; doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2010.00769.x


Previously published field investigations and modeling studies have demonstrated the potential for sample bias associated with vertical wellbore flow in conventional monitoring wells constructed with long-screened intervals. This article builds on the existing body of literature by (1) demonstrating the utility of continuous (i.e., hourly measurements for ∼1 month) ambient wellbore flow monitoring and (2) presenting results from a field experiment where relatively large wellbore flows (up to 4 L/min) were induced by aquifer hydrodynamics associated with a fluctuating river boundary located approximately 250 m from the test well. The observed vertical wellbore flows were strongly correlated with fluctuations in river stage, alternating between upward and downward flow throughout the monitoring period in response to changes in river stage. Continuous monitoring of ambient wellbore flows using an electromagnetic borehole flow meter allowed these effects to be evaluated in concert with continuously monitored river-stage elevations (hourly) and aqueous uranium concentrations (daily) in a long-screen well and an adjacent multilevel well cluster. This study demonstrates that when contaminant concentrations within the aquifer vary significantly over the depth interval interrogated, river-induced vertical wellbore flow can result in variations in measured concentration that nearly encompass the full range of variation in aquifer contaminant concentration with depth.