Predicting DNAPL entrapment and recovery: The influence of hydraulic property correlation

L. D. Lemke, L. M. Abriola

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10 Scopus citations


The influence of aquifer property correlation on multiphase fluid migration, entrapment and recovery was explored by incorporating correlated and uncorrelated porosity, permeability, and capillary pressure-saturation (Pc-Sat) parameter fields in a cross-sectional numerical multiphase flow model. Comparison of two-dimensional entrapped organic saturation distributions for a simulated tetrachloroethylene (PCE) spill in ensembles of aquifer realizations suggests that the degree of spatial correlation in Pc-Sat parameters exerts a controlling influence on dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) spreading and redistribution in saturated aquifers. The predicted evolution of DNAPL source zones and resultant remediation efficiency under surfactant enhanced aquifer remediation (SEAR) also appear to be strongly influenced by the spatial correlation of aquifer parameters and multiphase flow constitutive relationships. Results for a limited number of realizations selected from each ensemble showed that removal of 60% to 99% of entrapped PCE could reduce dissolved contaminant concentration and mass flux by approximately two orders of magnitude under natural gradient conditions. Aqueous phase contaminant mass flux did not vary uniformly as a function of % DNAPL removed, however, and notable differences in behavior were observed for models incorporating correlated versus uncorrelated Pc-Sat and permeability fields. Although these results must be confirmed through analysis of additional realizations, it is likely that similar or larger differences between correlated and uncorrelated system behavior will be observed in aquifers with greater spatially variability than that of the nonuniform, homogeneous sand aquifer studied here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-418
Number of pages11
JournalStochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • DNAPL source zones
  • Heterogeneity
  • SEAR
  • Surfactant enhanced aquifer remediation


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