Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

RMRS Online Publication - Journal Articles, External Publications, and Special Reports
Probability density function of non-reactive solute concentration in heterogeneous porous formations


Bellin, Alberto; Tonina, Daniele. 2007. Probability density function of non-reactive solute concentration in heterogeneous porous formations. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. 94: 109-125.

Available models of solute transport in heterogeneous formations lack in providing complete characterization of the predicted concentration. This is a serious drawback especially in risk analysis where confidence intervals and probability of exceeding threshold values are required. Our contribution to fill this gap of knowledge is a probability distribution model for the local concentration of conservative tracersmigrating in heterogeneous aquifers. Our model accounts for dilution, mechanical mixing within the sampling volume and spreading due to formation heterogeneity. It is developed by modeling local concentration dynamicswith an Ito Stochastic Differential Equation (SDE) that under the hypothesis of statistical stationarity leads to the Beta probability distribution function (pdf) for the solute concentration. This model shows large flexibility in capturing the smoothing effect of the sampling volume and the associated reduction of the probability of exceeding large concentrations. Furthermore, it is fully characterized by the first two moments of the solute concentration, and these are the same pieces of information required for standard geostatistical techniques employing Normal or Log-Normal distributions. Additionally, we show that in the absence of pore-scale dispersion and for point concentrations the pdf model converges to the binary distribution of [Dagan, G., 1982. Stochastic modeling of groundwater flow by unconditional and conditional probabilities, 2, The solute transport. Water Resour. Res. 18 (4), 835-848.], while it approaches the Normal distribution for sampling volumes much larger than the characteristic scale of the aquifer heterogeneity. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the same model with the spatial moments replacing the statistical moments can be applied to estimate the proportion of the plume volume where solute concentrations are above or below critical thresholds. Application of this model to point and vertically averaged bromide concentrations from the first Cape Cod tracer test and to a set of numerical simulations confirms the above findings and for the first time it shows the superiority of the Betamodel to both Normal and Log-Normal models in interpreting field data. Furthermore, we show that assuming a-priori that local concentrations are normally or log-normally distributed may result in a severe underestimate of the probability of exceeding large concentrations.

Keywords: concentration pdf, heterogeneous geological formations, Ito's Stochastic Differential Equation, beta distribution


About PDFs: For best results, do not open the PDF in your Web browser. Right-click on the PDF link to download the PDF file directly to your computer. Click here for more PDF help.


Download Article
http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_other/rmrs_2007_bellin_a001.pdf

PDF File Size: 680 K


Title: RMRS Other Publications: Probability density function of non-reactive solute concentration in heterogeneous porous formations
Electronic Publish Date: September 25, 2008
Last Update:
September 25, 2008

RMRS Publications | Order a publication | Contact Us