Evidence of compound-dependent hydrodynamic and mechanical transverse dispersion by multitracer laboratory experiments

Environmental Science & Technology
Gabriele ChiognaMassimo Rolle


Mass transfer, mixing, and therefore reaction rates during transport of solutes in porous media strongly depend on dispersion and diffusion. In particular, transverse mixing is a significant mechanism controlling natural attenuation of contaminant plumes in groundwater. The aim of the present study is to gain a deeper understanding of vertical transverse dispersive mixing of reaction partners in saturated porous media. Multitracer laboratory experiments in a quasi two-dimensional tank filled with glass beads were conducted and transverse dispersion coefficients were determined from high-resolution vertical concentration profiles. We investigated the behavior of conservative tracers (i.e., fluorescein, dissolved oxygen, and bromide), with different aqueous diffusion coefficients, in a range of grain-related Peclet numbers between 1 and 562. The experimental results do not agree with the classical linear parametric model of hydrodynamic dispersion, in which the transverse component is approximated as the sum of pore diffusion and a compound-independent mechanical dispersion term. The outcome of the multitracer experiments clearly indicates a nonlinear relation between the dispersion coefficient and the average linear velocity. Mo...Continue Reading


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