A zone of transport for a well is defined as the area in the horizontal plane bounded by a contour of equal ground-water travel time to the well. For short distances and ground-water travel times near a well, the potentiometric surface may be simulated analytically as that for a fully penetrating well in a uniform flow field. The zone of transport for this configuration is nearly elliptical. A simple method is derived to calculate a travel-time ellipse that approximates the zone of transport for a well in a uniform flow field. The travel-time ellipse was nearly congruent with the exact solution for the theoretical zone of transport for ground-water travel times of at least 10 years and for aquifer property values appropriate for southeastern Minnesota. For distances and travel times approaching infinity, however, the ellipse becomes slightly wider at its midpoint and narrower near its upgradient boundary than the theoretical zone of transport. The travel-time ellipse also may be used to simulate the plume area surrounding an injection well. However, the travel-time ellipse is an approximation that does not account for the effect of dispersion in enlarging the true area of an injection plume or zone of transport; hence, caution is advised in the use and interpretation of this simple construction. ?? 1994.
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The travel-time ellipse: an approximate zone of transport