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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 11
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4049–4055, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4049-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4049–4055, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-16-4049-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Technical note 06 Nov 2012

Technical note | 06 Nov 2012

Investigation of solute transport in nonstationary unsaturated flow fields

C.-M. Chang and H.-D. Yeh C.-M. Chang and H.-D. Yeh
  • Institute of Environmental Engineering, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan

Abstract. Most theoretical work on analyzing plume spreading at the field scale in a partially saturated heterogeneous formation assumes weak stationarity of velocity field. While this assumption is not applicable to the case of a bounded flow domain, the nonstationarity in fluctuations of unsaturated velocity fields is induced through the presence of the boundary conditions in the flow domain. In this work, we attempt to quantify the large-time macrodispersion in nonstationary unsaturated velocity fields caused by the presence of a fixed head boundary condition. Application of the perturbation-based nonstationary spectral approach leads to an analytical expression for the macrodispersion describing the field-scale dispersive solute flux in terms of the statistical moments of two formation parameters: the Gardener's parameter (α) and the saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks). The results predicted from the expression indicate that the enhanced unsaturated plume spreading can arise from a larger correlation scale of ln Ks or ln α fields. In addition, the α-parameter takes the role in reducing the field-scale plume spreading.

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