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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 10 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A Field Evidence Model: How to Predict Transport in a Heterogeneous Aquifers at Low Investigation Level?

Alraune Zech1,2, Peter Dietrich1,3, Sabine Atttinger1,4, and Georg Teutsch1 Alraune Zech et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Utrecht University, Department of Earth Science, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany
  • 4University of Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Aquifer heterogeneity in combination with data scarcity is a major challenge for reliable solute transport prediction. Velocity fluctuations cause non-regular plume shapes with potentially long tailing and/or fast traveling mass fractions. High monitoring cost and presumably missing simple concepts have limited the incorporation of heterogeneity to many field transport models up to now.

We present a hierarchical aquifer model which combines large-scale deterministic structures and simple stochastic approaches. Such a heterogeneous conductivity can easily be integrated into a numerical models. Depending on the modeling aim, the required structural complexity can be adapted. The same holds for the amount of available field data. The conductivity model is constructed step-wise following field evidence from observations; though relying on as minimal data as possible. Starting point are deterministic blocks, derived from head profiles and pumping tests. Then, sub-scale heterogeneity in form of random binary inclusions are introduced to each block. Structural parameters can be determined e.g. from flowmeter measurements.

As proof of concept, we implemented a predictive transport model for the heterogeneous MADE site. The proposed hierarchical aquifer structure reproduces the plume development of the MADE-1 transport experiment without calibration. Thus, classical ADE models are able to describe highly skewed tracer plumes by incorporating deterministic contrasts and effects of connectivity in a stochastic way even without using uni-modal heterogeneity models with high variances. The reliance of the conceptual model on few observations makes it appealing for a goal-oriented site specific transport analysis of less well investigated heterogeneous sites.

Alraune Zech et al.

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Alraune Zech et al.

Alraune Zech et al.


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