Assessing the value of different data sets and modeling schemes for flow and transport simulations

Friday, 19 December 2014
David W Hyndman1, Mine Dogan2, Remke L Van Dam1, Mark M Meerschaert1, James J Butler Jr3 and David Andrew Benson4, (1)Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, United States, (2)University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States, (3)University of Kansas, Kansas Geological Survey, Lawrence, KS, United States, (4)Colorado School of Mines, Hydrologic Science and Engineering, Golden, CO, United States
Accurate modeling of contaminant transport has been hampered by an inability to characterize subsurface flow and transport properties at a sufficiently high resolution. However mathematical extrapolation combined with different measurement methods can provide realistic three-dimensional fields of highly heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity (K). This study demonstrates an approach to evaluate the time, cost, and efficiency of subsurface K characterization. We quantify the value of different data sets at the highly heterogeneous Macro Dispersion Experiment (MADE) Site in Mississippi, which is a flagship test site that has been used for several macro- and small-scale tracer tests that revealed non-Gaussian tracer behavior. Tracer data collected at the site are compared to models that are based on different types and resolution of geophysical and hydrologic data. We present a cost-benefit analysis of several techniques including: 1) flowmeter K data, 2) direct-push K data, 3) ground penetrating radar, and 4) two stochastic methods to generate K fields. This research provides an initial assessment of the level of data necessary to accurately simulate solute transport with the traditional advection dispersion equation; it also provides a basis to design lower cost and more efficient remediation schemes at highly heterogeneous sites.