A method is proposed to localize preferential fluid flow pathways in earth dams and embankments based on time-lapse self-potential measurements associated with salt tracer injection upstream. This salt tracer is carried along the ground water flow paths by advection and hydrodynamic dispersion. A network of non-polarizing electrodes located at the ground surface is connected to a highly sensitive voltmeter and used to record the resulting electrical field fluctuations occurring over time at the ground surface. The transport of the salt through the conductive porous materials changes the localized streaming potential coupling coefficient associated with the advective drag of the excess of charge of the pore water and is also responsible for a diffusion current associated with the salinity gradient. Therefore, monitoring of the electrical field at the ground surface can be used to localize a pulse of saline water over time, and to determine its velocity. Possibly in real time This method can be used to track highly localized flow pathways characterized by high permeability that could not be monitored with DC resistivity tomography, which is limited in this regard because of temporal resolution.


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