Spectral induced polarization measurements on variably saturated sand-clay mixtures
K. Breede and A. Kemna
Issue: Vol 10, No 6, December 2012 pp. 479 - 489
Special Topic: Induced Polarization for Near-surface Investigations
Info: Article, PDF ( 5.56Mb )
Electrical spectral induced polarization (SIP) measurements are increasingly being used in environmental studies of the saturated zone. To better understand the mechanisms causing polarization and to extend the range of SIP applications to the vadose zone, it is important to investigate how the SIP response is affected by water saturation. Therefore, sand and sand-clay mixtures were drained in several steps using a novel measurement set-up allowing SIP measurements with a high accuracy. The measured SIP spectra were interpreted by Debye decomposition, which provided a relaxation time distribution and a chargeability distribution that was converted to a normalized total chargeability. The results showed that the normalized total chargeability of the fully saturated samples increased with increasing clay content due to the larger specific surface area of the clay minerals. Furthermore, normalized total chargeability first increased and then decreased with decreasing saturation for the pure sand and the 5% sand-clay mixture. The normalized total chargeability values for the 10% and 20% sand-clay mixtures only decreased with saturation. The peak relaxation time of the sand-clay mixtures clearly decreased with decreasing saturation. Existing grain-size based mechanistic models for SIP are not able to explain the observed behaviour and the observed relationship between relaxation time and saturation suggests that model concepts relying on polarization processes in the pore space are warranted to explain the measurements on variably saturated porous media presented here.