Positive solution of two-dimensional solute transport in heterogeneous aquifers

Paulo Herrera, Albert Valocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transport of contaminants in aquifers is usually represented by a convection-dispersion equation. There are several well-known problems of oscillation and artificial dispersion that affect the numerical solution of this equation. For example, several studies have shown that standard treatment of the cross-dispersion terms always leads to a negative concentration. It is also well known that the numerical solution of the convective term is affected by spurious oscillations or substantial numerical dispersion. These difficulties are especially significant for solute transport in nonuniform flow in heterogeneous aquifers. For the case of coupled reactive-transport models, even small negative concentration values can become amplified through nonlinear reaction source/sink terms and thus result in physically erroneous and unstable results. This paper includes a brief discussion about how nonpositive concentrations arise from numerical solution of the convection and cross-dispersion terms. We demonstrate the effectiveness of directional splitting with one-dimensional flux limiters for the convection term. Also, a new numerical scheme for the dispersion term that preserves positivity is presented. The results of the proposed convection scheme and the solution given by the new method to compute dispersion are compared with standard numerical methods as used in MT3DMS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-813
Number of pages11
JournalGround Water
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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