Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-20-2014

Publication Title

Water Resources Research

Volume

50

Issue

2

First Page

1433

Last Page

1447

DOI

10.1002/2013WR014057

Abstract

During in situ remediation of contaminated groundwater, a treatment solution is often injected into the contaminated region to initiate reactions that degrade the contaminant. Degradation reactions only occur where the treatment solution and the contaminated groundwater are close enough that mixing will bring them together. Degradation is enhanced when the treatment solution is spread into the contami- nated region, thereby increasing the spatial extent of mixing and degradation reactions. Spreading results from local velocity variations that emerge from aquifer heterogeneity and from spatial variations in the external forcings that drive flow. Certain patterns in external forcings have been shown to create chaotic advection, which is known to enhance spreading of solutes in groundwater flow and other laminar flows. This work uses numerical simulations of flow and reactive transport to investigate how aquifer heterogene- ity changes the qualitative and quantitative aspects of chaotic advection in an aquifer, and the extent to which these changes enhance contaminant degradation. We generate chaotic advection using engineered injection and extraction (EIE), an approach that uses sequential injection and extraction of water in wells surrounding the contaminated region to create time-dependent flow fields that promote plume spreading. We demonstrate that as the degree of heterogeneity increases, both plume spreading and contaminant degradation increase; however, the increase in contaminant degradation is small relative to the increase in plume spreading. Our results show that the combined effects of EIE and heterogeneity produce substan- tially more stretching than either effect separately.

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