Numerical simulation is used to examine the relative velocities of DNAPL and aqueous phase plumes in sandy aquifers where lateral spreading of DNAPL has occurred at the base of the aquifer. The scenario being modeled is one where a permeable aquifer is underlain by a sloping aquitard, which results in lateral migration of the DNAPL down the slope, in addition to lateral migration of an aqueous phase plume subject to a specified hydraulic gradient. A sensitivity analysis is presented to the impacts of both DNAPL properties and geologic properties. The most important chemical properties governing the relative velocities of the DNAPL and the shallow aqueous phase plume are the DNAPL viscosity and the aqueous component soil-water partition coefficient (K-d). The dip of the underlying aquitard was found to be relatively unimportant, at least for the range of values studied. The scenario under consideration can be important in conceptual model development and remedial design, as in certain cases DNAPL could be migrating in areas without the evidence of a well-developed aqueous phase plume. The implication of this work is that the absence of a shallow aqueous phase plume directly downgradient of a DNAPL source zone does not rule out the possibility of deep occurrences of DNAPL beyond the shallow monitoring well network. A further finding of this study is that the occurrence of a highly sorbing compound in groundwater at virtually any concentration may indicate the immediate upgradient presence of residual or pooled DNAPL. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.