Stochastic analysis of solute transport in heterogeneous, variably saturated soils

Thomas Harter, Tian-Chyi J Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Statistical moments of solute plumes from small sources in variably saturated, heterogeneous porous media are analyzed by using a newly developed, efficient high-resolution Monte Carlo technique. In agreement with previous theoretical work, it is illustrated that the prediction of such solute plumes is associated with large uncertainties for dimensionless travel times, t', exceeding 40, particularly predictions of plumes in highly heterogeneous soils (θ(y)/2 > 2). Uncertainty about the travel path of the plume center contributes significantly to overall concentration uncertainty as flux fields become more variable. It is shown that the concentration coefficient of variation at the center of the plume initially increases but stagnates or decreases at later times. For highly heterogeneous soil flux conditions or for the common case of soils with strongly anisotropic conditions, analytical models underestimate transverse spreading of the mean concentration plume at any given time, while overestimating longitudinal spreading. At identical mean plume displacement distances, analytical models underestimate both transverse and longitudinal spreading and overestimate the variance of solute flux (breakthrough curve) by up to a factor 4. As an alternative to the statistical analysis of solute flux, we propose to analyze statistical properties of time associated with peak solute flux and with first exceedance of a given solute flux level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1585-1595
Number of pages11
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume32
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1996

Fingerprint

Solute transport
soil transport processes
solute transport
solutes
plume
solute
Fluxes
Soils
soil
uncertainty
travel
Analytical models
prediction
Travel time
porous media
breakthrough curve
Porous materials
analysis
Statistical methods
statistical analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

Cite this

Stochastic analysis of solute transport in heterogeneous, variably saturated soils. / Harter, Thomas; Yeh, Tian-Chyi J.

In: Water Resources Research, Vol. 32, No. 6, 06.1996, p. 1585-1595.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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