The use of mass depletion-mass flux reduction relationships during pumping to determine source zone mass of a reactive brominated-solvent DNAPL

Colin Johnston, Greg Davis, T.P. Bastow, M.D. Annable, Michael Trefry, A.J. Furness, Y. Geste, R.J. Woodbury, P.S.C. Rao, S. Rhodes

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Mass depletion-mass flux relationships usually applied to a groundwater plume were established at field scale for groundwater pumped from within the source zone of a dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL). These were used as part of multiple lines of evidence in establishing the DNAPL source mass and architecture. Simplified source mass-dissolved concentration models including those described by exponential, power, and error functions as well as a rational mass equation based on the equilibrium stream tube approach were fitted to data from 285 days of source zone pumping (SZP) from a single well which removed 152 kg of dissolved organics from a multi-component, reactive brominated solvent DNAPL. The total molar concentration of the source compound, tetrabromoethane and its daughter products was used as a single measure of contaminant concentration to relate to source mass. A partitioning inter-well tracer test (PITT) conducted prior to the SZP provided estimates of groundwater travel times, enabling parameterisation of the models. After accounting for capture of the down-gradient dissolved plume, all models provided a good fit to the observed data. It was shown that differentiation between models would only emerge after appreciably more pumping from the source zone. The model fits were not particularly sensitive to the exponent parameters and variance of groundwater travel time. In addition, the multi-component nature of the DNAPL did not seem to affect the utility of the models for the period examined. Estimates of the DNAPL mass prior to the start of SZP from the models were greatest where the log of the variance of travel time was used explicitly in the source depletion models (mean 295 kg) compared to where the associated power exponent and variance was fitted freely (mean 258 kg). The estimates of source mass were close to that of 220 kg determined from the PITT. In addition to the PITT, multi-level groundwater sampling from within the source zone provided important supporting information for developing the conceptual model of the source zone. It is concluded that SZP may be an effective and relatively simple means for characterising DNAPL source zones. Crown Copyright © 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-137
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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