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Modelling tritium and phosphorus transport by preferential flow in structured soil

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Subsurface solute transport through structured soil is studied by model interpretation of experimental breakthrough curves from tritium and phosphorus tracer tests in three intact soil monoliths. Similar geochemical conditions, with nearly neutral pH, were maintained in all the experiments. Observed transport differences for the same tracer are thus mainly due to differences in the physical transport process between the different monoliths. The modelling is based on a probabilistic Lagrangian approach that decouples physical and chemical mass transfer and transformation processes from pure and stochastic advection. Thereby, it enables explicit quantification of the physical transport process through preferential flow paths, honouring all independently available experimental information. Modelling of the tritium breakthrough curves yields a probability density function of non-reactive solute travel time that is coupled with a reaction model for linear, non-equilibrium sorption-desorption to describe the phosphorus transport. The tritium model results indicate that significant preferential flow occurs in all the experimental soil monoliths, ranging from 60-100% of the total water flow moving through only 25-40% of the total water content. In agreement with the fact that geochemical conditions were similar in all experiments, phosphorus model results yield consistent first-order kinetic parameter values for the sorption-desorption process in two of the three soil monoliths; phosphorus transport through the third monolith cannot be modelled because the apparent mean transport rate of phosphorus is anomalously rapid relative to the non-adsorptive tritium transport. The occurrence of preferential flow alters the whole shape of the phosphorus breakthrough curve, not least the peak mass flux and concentration values, and increases the transported phosphorus mass by 2-3 times relative to the estimated mass transport without preferential flow in the two modelled monoliths. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Vol/bind35
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)389-407
Antal sider19
ISSN0169-7722
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 15 jan. 1999

ID: 226948876