Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 2015, Vol.175-176, p.26(18)
To link to full-text access for this article, visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jconhyd.2015.02.003 Byline: Alicia Sanz-Prat, Chuanhe Lu, Michael Finkel, Olaf A. Cirpka Abstract: Travel-time based models simplify the description of reactive transport by replacing the spatial coordinates with the groundwater travel time, posing a quasi one-dimensional (1-D) problem and potentially rendering the determination of multidimensional parameter fields unnecessary. While the approach is exact for strictly advective transport in steady-state flow if the reactive properties of the porous medium are uniform, its validity is unclear when local-scale mixing affects the reactive behavior. We compare a two-dimensional (2-D), spatially explicit, bioreactive, advective-dispersive transport model, considered as "virtual truth", with three 1-D travel-time based models which differ in the conceptualization of longitudinal dispersion: (i) neglecting dispersive mixing altogether, (ii) introducing a local-scale longitudinal dispersivity constant in time and space, and (iii) using an effective longitudinal dispersivity that increases linearly with distance. The reactive system considers biodegradation of dissolved organic carbon, which is introduced into a hydraulically heterogeneous domain together with oxygen and nitrate. Aerobic and denitrifying bacteria use the energy of the microbial transformations for growth. We analyze six scenarios differing in the variance of log-hydraulic conductivity and in the inflow boundary conditions (constant versus time-varying concentration). The concentrations of the 1-D models are mapped to the 2-D domain by means of the kinematic (for case i), and mean groundwater age (for cases ii & iii), respectively. The comparison between concentrations of the "virtual truth" and the 1-D approaches indicates extremely good agreement when using an effective, linearly increasing longitudinal dispersivity in the majority of the scenarios, while the other two 1-D approaches reproduce at least the concentration tendencies well. At late times, all 1-D models give valid approximations of two-dimensional transport. We conclude that the conceptualization of nonlinear bioreactive transport in complex multidimensional domains by quasi 1-D travel-time models is valid for steady-state flow fields if the reactants are introduced over a wide cross-section, flow is at quasi steady state, and dispersive mixing is adequately parametrized. Article History: Received 26 August 2014; Revised 30 January 2015; Accepted 5 February 2015
Hydrogeology – Analysis ; Groundwater – Analysis ; Biodegradation – Analysis
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