Web-based interactive simulation of groundwater pollutant fate and transport

Albert J. Valocchi, Charles J. Werth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A series of interactive web simulation models were developed to help students understand the coupled physical, chemical, and microbiological processes that affect the transport and fate of pollutants in groundwater. Conventional models that simulate coupled processes are often not effective learning tools because they are too complex, they suffer from cumbersome interfaces, and/or they are difficult to install and run. The web models are fully interactive lava applets that run locally through a web browser. They have graphical user interfaces, straightforward input and output fields, and rapid response times. These features enhance learning because students can rapidly visualize the impact of changes to parameter values and boundary and initial conditions, and explore the effect of different reaction processes. Presently, six different web models have been developed to explore coupled processes such as advection, longitudinal and transverse dispersion, linear or rate limited sorption, and first order decay. A web model was also developed to study the flow patterns caused by multiple pumping wells in two-dimensional steady flow. Several examples of how the models can be used to teach students about coupled processes are discussed. Last, an assessment of the effectiveness of the models to enhance student learning is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalComputer Applications in Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004


  • Active learning
  • Contaminant transport
  • Groundwater modeling
  • Java applets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Education
  • General Engineering


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