Visualization of dyed NAPL concentration in transparent porous media using color space components

Sina Kashuk, Sophia R. Mercurio, Magued Iskander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Finding a correlation between image pixel information and non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) saturation is an important issue in bench-scale geo-environmental model studies that employ optical imaging techniques. Another concern is determining the best dye color and its optimum concentration as a tracer for use in mapping NAPL zones. Most bench scale flow studies employ monochromatic gray-scale imaging to analyze the concentration of mostly red dyed NAPL tracers in porous media. However, the use of grayscale utilizes a third of the available information in color images, which typically contain three color-space components. In this study, eight color spaces consisting of 24 color-space components were calibrated against dye concentration for three color-dyes. Additionally, multiple color space components were combined to increase the correlation between color-space data and dyed NAPL concentration. This work is performed to support imaging of NAPL migration in transparent synthetic soils representing the macroscopic behavior of natural soils. The transparent soil used in this study consists of fused quartz and a matched refractive index mineral-oil solution that represents the natural aquifer. The objective is to determine the best color dye concentration and ideal color space components for rendering dyed sucrose-saturated fused quartz that represents contamination of the natural aquifer by a dense NAPL (DNAPL). Calibration was achieved for six NAPL zone lengths using 3456 images (24 color space components × 3 dyes × 48 NAPL combinations) of contaminants within a defined criteria expressed as peak signal to noise ratio. The effect of data filtering was also considered and a convolution average filter is recommended for image conditioning. The technology presented in this paper is fast, accurate, non-intrusive and inexpensive method for quantifying contamination zones using transparent soil models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Color dyes
  • Colorimetry
  • Laboratory tests
  • Model studies
  • Optical image processing
  • Regression analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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