Numerical simulation of non-fickian transport in geological formations with multiple-scale heterogeneities

Andrea Cortis, Claudio Gallo, H. Scher, B. Berkowitz
Technical Report 04/34, CRS4, Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia, Number 04/34 - april 2004
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We develop a numerical method to model contaminant transport in heterogeneous geological formations. The method is based on a unified framework that takes into account the different levels of uncertainty often associated with characterizing heterogeneities at different spatial scales. It treats the unresolved, small-scale heterogeneities (residues) probabilistically using a continuous time random walk (CTRW) formalism and the largescale heterogeneity variations (trends) deterministically. This formulation leads to a Fokker-Planck equation with a memory term (FPME) and a generalized concentration flux term. The former term captures the non-Fickian behavior arising from the residues, and the latter term accounts for the trends, which are included with explicit treatment at the heterogeneity interfaces. The memory term allows a transition between non-Fickian and Fickian transport, while the coupling of these dynamics with the trends quantifies the unique nature of the transport over a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. The advection-dispersion equation (ADE) is shown to be a special case of our unified framework. The solution of the ADE is used as a reference for the FPME solutions for the same formation structure. Numerical treatment of the equations involves solution for the Laplace transformed concentration by means of classical finite element methods, and subsequent inversion in the time domain. We use the numerical method to quantify transport in a two-dimensional domain for different expressions for the memory term. The parameters defining these expressions are measurable quantities. The calculations demonstrate long tailing arising (principally) from the memory term and the effects on arrival times that are controlled largely by the generalized concentration flux term.

BibTex references

  author       = {Cortis, A. and Gallo, C. and Scher, H. and Berkowitz, B.},
  title        = {Numerical simulation of non-fickian transport in geological formations with multiple-scale heterogeneities},
  institution  = {CRS4, Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia},
  number       = {04/34},
  month        = {april},
  year         = {2004},
  address      = {Cagliari, Italy},
  type         = {techreport},
  keywords     = {continuous time random walk, non-Fickian transport, nonstationary heterogeneity, numerical simulation.},
  url          = {},

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