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Numerical study of soil heterogeneity effects on contaminant transport in unsaturated soil (model development and validation)


Correspondence to: A. A. Javadi, Department of Engineering, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon EX4 4QF, U.K.



The movement of chemicals through soil to groundwater is a major cause of degradation of water resources. In many cases, serious human and stock health implications are associated with this form of pollution. The study of the effects of different factors involved in transport phenomena can provide valuable information to find the best remediation approaches. Numerical models are increasingly being used for predicting or analyzing solute transport processes in soils and groundwater. This article presents the development of a stochastic finite element model for the simulation of contaminant transport through soils with the main focus being on the incorporation of the effects of soil heterogeneity in the model. The governing equations of contaminant transport are presented. The mathematical framework and the numerical implementation of the model are described. The comparison of the results obtained from the developed stochastic model with those obtained from a deterministic method and some experimental results shows that the stochastic model is capable of predicting the transport of solutes in unsaturated soil with higher accuracy than deterministic one. The importance of the consideration of the effects of soil heterogeneity on contaminant fate is highlighted through a sensitivity analysis regarding the variance of saturated hydraulic conductivity as an index of soil heterogeneity. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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