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Experimental characterization and modeling non-Fickian dispersion in aquifers

Abstract : His work aims at modeling hydrodynamic dispersion mechanisms in aquifers. So far both flow field heterogeneity and mobile-immobile mass transfer have been studied separately for explaining the ubiquitously observed non-Fickian behaviors, but we postulate that both mechanisms contribute simultaneously. Our investigations combine laboratory experiments and pore scale numerical modeling. The experimental rig was designed to enable push-pull and flow through tracer tests on glass bead columns and Berea sandstone cores. Modeling consists in solving Stokes flow and solute transport on 3D X-ray microtomography images segmented into three phases: solid, void and microporosity. Transport is modeled using time domain random walk. Statistical analysis of the flow field emphasizes the importance of the mesh resolution and the inclusion of the microporosity. Results from the simulations show that both the flow field heterogeneity and the diffusive transport in the microporous fraction of the rock contribute to the overall non-Fickian transport behavior observed, for instance, on the breakthrough curves (BTC). These results are supported by our experiments. We conclude that, in general, this dual control must be taken into account, even if these different influences can hardly be distinguished from a qualitative appraisal of the BTC shape, specifically for the low values of the Peclet number that occurs in natural conditions. Finally, a 1D up-scaled model is developed in the framework of the continuous time random walk, where the influences of the flow field heterogeneity and mobile-immobile mass transfer are both taken into account using distinct transition time distributions.
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Filip Gjetvaj. Experimental characterization and modeling non-Fickian dispersion in aquifers. Earth Sciences. Université Montpellier, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015MONTS204⟩. ⟨tel-02049304⟩

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