A Semi-Analytical Solution for Transient Streaming Potentials Associated with Confined Aquifer Pumping Tests

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We consider the transient streaming potential response due to pumping from a confined aquifer through a fully penetrating line sink. Confined aquifer flow is assumed to occur without fluid leakage from the confining units. However, since confining units are typically clayey, and hence more electrically conductive than the aquifer, they are treated as non-insulating in our three-layer conceptual model. We develop a semi-analytical solution for the transient streaming potentials response of the aquifer and the confining units to pumping of the aquifer. The solution is fitted to field measurements of streaming potentials associated with an aquifer test performed at a site located near Montalto Uffugo, in the region of Calabria in Southern Italy. This yields an average hydraulic conductivity that compares well to the estimate obtained using only hydraulic head data. Specific storage is estimated with greater estimation uncertainty than hydraulic conductivity and is significantly smaller than that estimated from hydraulic head data. This indicates that specific storage may be a more difficult parameter to estimate from streaming potential data. The mismatch may also be due to the fact that only recovery streaming potential data were used here whereas head data for both production and recovery were used. The estimate from head data may also constitute an upper bound since head data were not corrected for pumping and observation wellbore storage. Estimated values of the electrical conductivities of the confining units compare well to those estimated using electrical resistivity tomography. Our work indicates that, where observation wells are unavailable to provide more direct estimates, streaming potential data collected at land surface may, in principle, be used to provide preliminary estimates of aquifer hydraulic conductivity and specific storage, where the latter is estimated with greater uncertainty than the former.