Monte Carlo Simulation of Contaminant Transport: I. Long-range Correlations in Fracture Conductivity

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We develop a network model of fractures, and use the model to study transport of contaminants by groundwater through natural geological media. The fractures are narrow rectangular channels between large flat parallel plates, which are embedded in the surrounding rock matrix. The fracture-permeabilities and the fracture-widths are obtained from both uniform and fBm distributions. The pressure distribution in the network, and subsequently the velocity of groundwater in each channel, is obtained. The transport problem in an individual fracture is solved in Laplace space using the realized groundwater velocities and network mass conservation. The transform space solutions are then inverted to real time using a fast and efficient inversion algorithm. Monte Carlo simulations are then carried out by repeating the above procedure for a large number of realizations. The main focus of this study is to explore the effects correlated fracture-permeabilities and fracture-widths have on the transport of contaminants. While the primary transport mechanism is convection, we also study such processes as adsorption onto the fracture surface, and radioactive decay. We show how these phenomena, individually and in combination with one another, affect the overall transport process. In addition, we investigate the nature of the mixing zone, and discuss how these results can be helpful in developing remediation techniques for a contaminated site.

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