Simulation of variable-density flow and transport of reactive and nonreactive solutes during a tracer test at Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



A multispecies numerical code was developed to simulate flow and mass transport with kinetic adsorption in variable-density flow systems. The two-dimensional code simulated the transport of bromide (Br), a nonreactive tracer, and lithium (Li+), a reactive tracer, in a large-scale tracer test performed in a sand-and-gravel aquifer at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A two-fraction kinetic adsorption model was implemented to simulate the interaction of Li+ with the aquifer solids. Initial estimates for some of the transport parameters were obtained from a nonlinear least squares curve-fitting procedure, where the breakthrough curves from column experiments were matched with one-dimensional theoretical models. The numerical code successfully simulated the basic characteristics of the two plumes in the tracer test. At early times the centers of mass of Br and Li+ sank because the two plumes were closely coupled to the density-driven velocity field. At later times the rate of downward movement in the Br plume due to gravity slowed significantly because of dilution by dispersion. The downward movement of the Li+ plume was negligible because the two plumes moved in locally different velocity regimes, where Li+ transport was retarded relative to Br. The maximum extent of downward transport of the Li+ plume was less than that of the Br plume. This study also found that at early times the downward movement of a plume created by a three-dimensional source could be much more extensive than the case with a two-dimensional source having the same cross-sectional area. The observed shape of the Br plume at Cape Cod was simulated by adding two layers with different hydraulic conductivities at shallow depth across the region. The large dispersion and asymmetrical shape of the Li+ plume were simulated by including kinetic adsorption-desorption reactions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Simulation of variable-density flow and transport of reactive and nonreactive solutes during a tracer test at Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/97WR02918
Volume 34
Issue 1
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 16 p.
First page 67
Last page 82
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Other Geospatial Cape Cod
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