The effect of organic acid on the spectral-induced polarization response of soil

N. Schwartz, T. Shalem, A. Furman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In spectral-induced polarization (SIP) studies of sites contaminated by organic hydrocarbons, it was shown that biodegradation by-products in general, and organic acids in particular, significantly alter the SIP signature of the subsurface. Still a systematic study that considers the effect of organic acid on the physicochemical and electrical (SIP) properties of the soil is missing. The goal of this work is to relate between the effect of organic acid on the physicochemical properties of the soil, and the soil electrical properties. To do so, we measured the temporal changes of the soil chemical (ion content) and electrical (low-frequency SIP) properties in response to influx of organic acid at different concentrations, gradually altering the soil pH. Our results showthat organic acid reduces the soil pH, enhances mineralweathering and consequently reduces both the in-phase and quadrature conductivity. At the pH rangewhere mineral weathering is most significant (pH 6-4.5) a negative linear relation between the soil pH and the soil formation factor was found, suggesting that mineral weathering changes the pore space geometry and hence affecting the in-phase electrical conductivity. In addition, we attribute the reduction in the quadrature conductivity to an exchange process between the natural cation adsorbed on the mineral surface and hydronium, and to changes in the width of the pore bottleneck that results from the mineral weathering. Overall, our results allow a better understanding of the SIP signature of soil undergoing acidification process in general and as biodegradation process in particular.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Although this work was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Contracts 68-02-4035 and CR806734, the contents do not necessarily reflect the view and policies of the Agency nor does mention of trade names of commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.


  • Electrical properties
  • Hydrogeophysics
  • Hydrology


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