Theoretical analysis of deviations from local equilibrium during sorbing solute transport through idealized stratified aquifers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper studies the spreading characteristics of reactive solute plumes in idealized stratified aquifers. The aquifer consists of two layers having different permeabilities with flow parallel to the stratification. The solute is assumed to adsorb onto the aquifer solids according to a first-order reversible kinetic rate law; the adsorption parameters are spatially uniform. We use the Aris moment method to examine analytically the time evolution of the lower-order spatial moments of the depth-averaged contaminant plume for an instantaneous input of mass. The results demonstrate that sorption kinetics cause the total dissolved mass and average velocity of the contaminant plume to decrease with increasing travel time. The plume variance is shown to depend upon three factors: intra-layer longitudinal dispersion, intra-layer kinetics, and vertical averaging. The results indicate that the relative importance of sorption kinetics diminishes as the permeability contrast between the layers increases. We present a simple criterion that can be used to assess the applicability of the local equilibrium assumption in idealized stratified systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-207
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

Cite this