Multiphase flow and transport through fractured heterogeneous porous media

David Reynolds, B.H. Kueper

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The migration of Dense, Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL) and dissolved phase contamination through a fractured heterogeneous porous medium has been investigated through the use of a multiphase compositional model. The sensitivity of the timescales of migration and the distribution of contaminant in the subsurface to the mean permeability, the variance of the permeability, and the degree of fracturing of the domain were examined. It was found that increasing the mean permeability of the domain allowed the DNAPL to penetrate deeper into the subsurface, while decreasing the mean permeability caused the DNAPL to pool at shallower depths. The presence of fractures within the system was found to control the infiltration only in the most fractured domain. Moment analysis of the nonwetting phase showed that large-scale movement had ceased after approximately 9 years (maximum duration of the source-on condition was approximately 4.5 years). This tended to be due to a redistribution of the DNAPL towards a residual configuration, as was evidenced by the gradual trending of average nonwetting phase saturations within the domain to a static value. The dissolved phase plume was found to migrate at essentially the same rate as the nonwetting phase, due to the reduced relative permeability of lenses containing DNAPL, and due to diffusive losses of mass to the matrix of fractured clay and silty-clay lenses. Some exceptions to this were found when the DNAPL could not overcome the displacement pressure of a lens, and could not by-pass the lens due to the lack of available driving force after the source had been shut off. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-110
    JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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