Effects of non-Gaussian copula-based hydraulic conductivity fields on macrodispersion

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Abstract

[1] This is an application of a spatial copula model that is fitted to a real world data set. The copula model allows modeling of pure spatial dependence independently of the marginal distribution. Using non-Gaussian copula models it is demonstrated that the spatial dependence structure of the Borden aquifer is significantly non-Gaussian—despite the fact that the Borden aquifer is commonly thought of as a relatively homogeneous porous medium with a small variance of hydraulic conductivity. In addition to evaluating the spatial dependence structure of the Borden hydraulic conductivity data set using copulas, goal of this study is to explore if the structure of the hydraulic conductivity field influences a physical property, such as plume evolution as evaluated by second spatial central moments of concentration fields. For this comparison, two types of hydraulic conductivity fields were fitted to the Borden hydraulic conductivity data set: one with a Gaussian and the other with a non-Gaussian type of dependence. These two types of hydraulic conductivity fields were constructed such that their second-order spatial moments are identical, and hence they cannot be distinguished by semivariogram-based geostatistics. This paper illustrates that the spatial dependence structure of the Borden hydraulic conductivity data set is significantly non-Gaussian. Despite the fact that Borden is a relatively homogeneous porous medium, and despite the fact that both types of spatial fields are not distinguishable by their variograms, the solute transport characteristics based on these two types of isotropic fields differ significantly in two-dimensional settings. The difference is less pronounced in three-dimensions with anisotropy. It is postulated that non-Gaussian spatial dependence of hydraulic conductivity and a more skewed marginal distribution of hydraulic conductivity will have significant implications in the other more heterogeneous aquifers.

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