This paper presents an approach conducive to an evaluation of the probability density function (pdf) of spatio-temporal distributions of concentrations of reactive solutes (and associated reaction rates) evolving in a randomly heterogeneous aquifer. Most existing approaches to solute transport in heterogeneous media focus on providing expressions for space–time moments of concentrations. In general, only low order moments (unconditional or conditional mean and covariance) are computed. In some cases, this allows for obtaining a confidence interval associated with predictions of local concentrations. Common applications, such as risk assessment and vulnerability practices, require the assessment of extreme (low or high) concentration values. We start from the well-known approach of deconstructing the reactive transport problem into the analysis of a conservative transport process followed by speciation to (a) provide a partial differential equation (PDE) for the (conditional) pdf of conservative aqueous species, and (b) derive expressions for the pdf of reactive species and the associated reaction rate. When transport at the local scale is described by an Advection Dispersion Equation (ADE), the equation satisfied by the pdf of conservative species is non-local in space and time. It is similar to an ADE and includes an additional source term. The latter involves the contribution of dilution effects that counteract dispersive fluxes. In general, the PDE we provide must be solved numerically, in a Monte Carlo framework. In some cases, an approximation can be obtained through suitable localization of the governing equation. We illustrate the methodology to depict key features of transport in randomly stratified media in the absence of transverse dispersion effects. In this case, all the pdfs can be explicitly obtained, and their evolution with space and time is discussed

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Published on 01/01/2008

DOI: 10.1007/s11004-008-9204-2
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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