Ground Water, November 2007, Vol.45(6), pp.774-785
In this article, different strategies for estimating first‐order degradation rate constants from measured field data are compared by application to multiple, synthetic, contaminant plumes. The plumes were generated by numerical simulation of contaminant transport and degradation in virtual heterogeneous aquifers. These sites were then individually and independently investigated on the computer by installation of extensive networks of observation wells. From the data measured at the wells, that is, contaminant concentrations, hydraulic conductivities, and heads, first‐order degradation rates were estimated by three 1D centerline methods, which use only measurements located on the plume axis, and a two‐dimensional method, which uses all concentration measurements available downgradient from the contaminant source. Results for both strategies show that the true rate constant used for the numerical simulation of the plumes in general tends to be overestimated. Overestimation is stronger for narrow plumes from small source zones, with an average overestimation factor of about 5 and single values ranging from 0.5 to 20, decreasing for wider plumes, with an average overestimation factor of about 2 and similar spread. Reasons for this overestimation are identified in the velocity calculation, the dispersivity parameterization, and off‐centerline measurements. For narrow plumes, the one‐ and the two‐dimensional strategies show approximately the same amount of overestimation. For wider plumes, however, incorporation of all measurements in the two‐dimensional approach reduces the estimation error. No significant relation between the number of observation wells in the monitoring network and the quality of the estimated rate constant is found for the two‐dimensional approach.
Models, Theoretical ; Environmental Monitoring -- Methods ; Water Pollutants, Chemical -- Analysis;