Recent models of solute movement in porous media that are based on a stochastic description of the porous medium properties have been dedicated primarily to a three-dimensional interpretation of solute movement. In many practical problems, however, it is more convenient and consistent with measuring techniques to consider flow and solute transport as an areal, two-dimensional phenomenon. The physics of solute movement, however, is dependent on the three-dimensional heterogeneity in the formation. A comparison of two- and three-dimensional stochastic interpretations of solute movement in a porous medium having a statistically isotropic hydraulic conductivity field is investigated. To provide an equitable comparison between the two- and three-dimensional analyses, the stochastic properties of the transmissivity are defined in terms of the stochastic properties of the hydraulic conductivity. The variance of the transmissivity is shown to be significantly reduced in comparison to that of the hydraulic conductivity, and the transmissivity is spatially correlated over larger distances. These factors influence the two-dimensional interpretations of solute movement by underestimating the longitudinal and transverse growth of the solute plume in comparison to its description as a three-dimensional phenomenon. Although this analysis is based on small perturbation approximations and the special case of a statistically isotropic hydraulic conductivity field, it casts doubt on the use of a stochastic interpretation of the transmissivity in describing regional scale movement. However, by assuming the transmissivity to be the vertical integration of the hydraulic conductivity field at a given position, the stochastic properties of the hydraulic conductivity can be estimated from the stochastic properties of the transmissivity and applied to obtain a more accurate interpretation of solute movement. ?? 1990 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
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A comparison of two- and three-dimensional stochastic models of regional solute movement