We address the question of how one can combine theoretical and numerical modeling approaches with limited measurements from laboratory flow cell experiments to realistically quantify salient features of complex mixing-driven multicomponent reactive transport problems in porous media. Flow cells are commonly used to examine processes affecting reactive transport through porous media, under controlled conditions. An advantage of flow cells is their suitability for relatively fast and reliable experiments, although measuring spatial distributions of a state variable within the cell is often difficult. In general, fluid is sampled only at the flow cell outlet, and concentration measurements are usually interpreted in terms of integrated reaction rates. In reactive transport problems, however, the spatial distribution of the reaction rates within the cell might be more important than the bulk integrated value. Recent advances in theoretical and numerical modeling of complex reactive transport problems [De Simoni M, Carrera J, Sanchez-Vila X, Guadagnini A. A procedure for the solution of multicomponent reactive transport problems. Water Resour Res 2005;41:W11410. doi: 10.1029/2005WR004056, De Simoni M, Sanchez-Vila X, Carrera J, Saaltink MW. A mixing ratios-based formulation for multicomponent reactive transport. Water Resour Res 2007;43:W07419. doi: 10.1029/2006WR005256] result in a methodology conducive to a simple exact expression for the space–time distribution of reaction rates in the presence of homogeneous or heterogeneous reactions in chemical equilibrium. The key points of the methodology are that a general reactive transport problem, involving a relatively high number of chemical species, can be formulated in terms of a set of decoupled partial differential equations, and the amount of reactants evolving into products depends on the rate at which solutions mix. The main objective of the current study is to show how this methodology can be used in conjunction with laboratory experiments to properly describe the key processes that occur in a complex, geochemically-active system under chemical equilibrium conditions. We model three CaCO3 dissolution experiments reported in Singurindy et al. [Singurindy O, Berkowitz B, Lowell RP. Carbonate dissolution and precipitation in coastal environments: Laboratory analysis and theoretical consideration. Water Resour Res 2004;40:W04401. doi: 10.1029/2003WR002651, Singurindy O, Berkowitz B, Lowell RP. Correction to Carbonate dissolution and precipitation in coastal environments: laboratory analysis and theoretical consideration. Water Resour Res 2005;41:W11701. doi: 10.1029/2005WR004433], in which saltwater and freshwater were mixed in different proportions. The integrated reaction rate within the cell estimated from the experiments are modeled independently by means of (a) a state-of-the-art reactive transport code, and (b) the uncoupled methodology of [12, 13], both of which use dispersivity as a single, adjustable parameter. The good agreement between the results from both methodologies demonstrates the feasibility of using simple solutions to design and analyze laboratory experiments involving complex geochemical problems

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Published on 01/01/2009

DOI: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2008.07.005
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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