Modified Well-Field Configurations for Improved Performance of Contaminant Elution and Tracer Tests

Zhilin Guo, Mark L. Brusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Contaminant elution and tracer (CET) tests are one method for characterizing the impact of mass transfer, transformation, and other attenuation processes on contaminant transport and mass removal for subsurface systems. The purpose of the work reported herein is to explore specific well-field configurations for improving CET tests by reducing the influence of preferential flow and surrounding plume effects. Three injection-extraction well configurations were tested for different domain conditions using a three-dimensional numerical model. The three configurations were the traditional configuration with a single pair of injection-extraction wells, modified configuration I with one extraction well located between two injection wells, and modified configuration II with two pairs of injection-extraction couplets (one nested within the other). Elution curves for resident contaminant and breakthrough curves from simulated tracer tests were examined for specific landmarks such as the presence and extent of steady state (relatively high concentrations) and asymptotic (asymptotic decrease to low concentrations) phases, as well as distinct changes in slope. Temporal moment analysis of the breakthrough curves was conducted to evaluate mass recovery. Effective diffusion coefficients were obtained by fitting selected functions to the elution curves. Based on simulation results for a homogeneous domain, full isolation of the inner extraction well from the surrounding plume was obtained for the modified configuration II, whereas the extraction wells are impacted by the surrounding plume for the other two configurations. Therefore, configuration II was used for additional simulations conducted with layered and heterogeneous domains. Tracer test simulations for homogeneous and layered domains indicate 100% mass recovery for the inner extraction well. For the heterogeneous domain, decreasing the distance between the inner injection-extraction well couplet and adjusting the pumping rate distribution between the two extraction wells increased the mass recovery from 69 to 99%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number261
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Attenuation
  • Contaminant plume
  • Mass transfer
  • Site characterization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Modified Well-Field Configurations for Improved Performance of Contaminant Elution and Tracer Tests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this