TY - JOUR

T1 - Universal scaling of hydraulic conductivities and dispersivities in geologic media

AU - Neuman, Shlomo P.

PY - 1990/8

Y1 - 1990/8

N2 - An interpretation is offered for the observation that dispersivities increase with scale. Apparent longitudinal dispersivity data from a variety of hydrogeologic settings are assumed to represent a continuous hierarchy of log hydraulic conductivity fields with mutually uncorrelated increments, each field having its own exponential autocovariance, associated integral scale, and variance that increases as a power of scale. Such a hierarchy is shown theoretically to form a self‐similar random field with homogeneous increments. Regardless of whether or not the underlying assumption is valid, one can justify interpreting the apparent dispersivities in a manner consistent with a recent quasi‐linear theory of non‐Fickian and Fickian dispersion in homogeneous media which supports the notion of a self‐similar hierarchy a posteriori. The hierarchy is revealed to possess a semivariogram γ(s;) ≊ cs½, where c is a constant, and a fractal dimension D ≊ E + 0.75, where E is the topological dimension of interest. This can be viewed as a universal scaling rule about which large deviations occur due to local influences including the existence of discrete natural scales at which log hydraulic conductivity is statistically homogeneous. As such homogeneity is at best a local phenomenon occurring intermittently over narrow bands of the scale spectrum, one must question the utility of associating medium properties with representative elementary volumes and relying on Fickian models of dispersion over more than relatively narrow scale intervals. Porous and fractured media appear to follow the same idealized scaling rule for both flow and transport, raising a question about the validity of many distinctions commonly drawn between such media. Finally, the data suggest that conditioning transport models through calibration against hydraulic measurements has the effect of filtering out large‐scale modes from the hierarchy.

AB - An interpretation is offered for the observation that dispersivities increase with scale. Apparent longitudinal dispersivity data from a variety of hydrogeologic settings are assumed to represent a continuous hierarchy of log hydraulic conductivity fields with mutually uncorrelated increments, each field having its own exponential autocovariance, associated integral scale, and variance that increases as a power of scale. Such a hierarchy is shown theoretically to form a self‐similar random field with homogeneous increments. Regardless of whether or not the underlying assumption is valid, one can justify interpreting the apparent dispersivities in a manner consistent with a recent quasi‐linear theory of non‐Fickian and Fickian dispersion in homogeneous media which supports the notion of a self‐similar hierarchy a posteriori. The hierarchy is revealed to possess a semivariogram γ(s;) ≊ cs½, where c is a constant, and a fractal dimension D ≊ E + 0.75, where E is the topological dimension of interest. This can be viewed as a universal scaling rule about which large deviations occur due to local influences including the existence of discrete natural scales at which log hydraulic conductivity is statistically homogeneous. As such homogeneity is at best a local phenomenon occurring intermittently over narrow bands of the scale spectrum, one must question the utility of associating medium properties with representative elementary volumes and relying on Fickian models of dispersion over more than relatively narrow scale intervals. Porous and fractured media appear to follow the same idealized scaling rule for both flow and transport, raising a question about the validity of many distinctions commonly drawn between such media. Finally, the data suggest that conditioning transport models through calibration against hydraulic measurements has the effect of filtering out large‐scale modes from the hierarchy.

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U2 - 10.1029/WR026i008p01749

DO - 10.1029/WR026i008p01749

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0025474361

VL - 26

SP - 1749

EP - 1758

JO - Water Resources Research

JF - Water Resources Research

SN - 0043-1397

IS - 8

ER -