Comparison of Approaches for Predicting Solute Transport: Sandbox Experiments

Walter A. Illman, Steven J. Berg, Tian Chyi Jim Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The main purpose of this paper was to compare three approaches for predicting solute transport. The approaches include: (1) an effective parameter/macrodispersion approach (Gelhar and Axness 1983); (2) a heterogeneous approach using ordinary kriging based on core samples; and (3) a heterogeneous approach based on hydraulic tomography. We conducted our comparison in a heterogeneous sandbox aquifer. The aquifer was first characterized by taking 48 core samples to obtain local-scale hydraulic conductivity (K). The spatial statistics of these K values were then used to calculate the effective parameters. These K values and their statistics were also used for kriging to obtain a heterogeneous K field. In parallel, we performed a hydraulic tomography survey using hydraulic tests conducted in a dipole fashion with the drawdown data analyzed using the sequential successive linear estimator code (Yeh and Liu 2000) to obtain a K distribution (or K tomogram). The effective parameters and the heterogeneous K fields from kriging and hydraulic tomography were used in forward simulations of a dipole conservative tracer test. The simulated and observed breakthrough curves and their temporal moments were compared. Results show an improvement in predictions of drawdown behavior and tracer transport when the K tomogram from hydraulic tomography was used. This suggests that the high-resolution prediction of solute transport is possible without collecting a large number of small-scale samples to estimate flow and transport properties that are costly to obtain at the field scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-431
Number of pages11
JournalGround water
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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