Ground Water. 2022 Sep 17. doi: 10.1111/gwat.13252. Online ahead of print.
The scope of this work is to discuss the proper choice of macrodispersion coefficients in modeling contaminant transport through the advection dispersion equation (ADE). It is common to model solute concentrations in transport by groundwater with the aid of the ADE. Spreading is quantified by macrodispersivity coefficients, which are much larger than the laboratory observed pore-scale dispersivities. In the frame of stochastic theory, longitudinal macrodispersivity is related to the hydraulic conductivity spatial variability via its statistical moments (mean, variance, integral scales), which are generally determined by geostatistical analysis of field measurements. In many cases, especially for preliminary assessment of contaminant spreading, these data are not available and ad-hoc values are adopted by practitioners. The present study aims at recommending dispersivity values based on a thorough analysis of tens of field experiments. Aquifers are classified as of weak, medium and high heterogeneity and for each class a range of macrodispersivity values is recommended. Much less data are available for the transverse macrodispersivities, which are significantly smaller than the longitudinal one. Nevertheless, a few realistic values based on field data, are recommended for applications. Transport models using macrodispersivities can predict mean concentrations, different from the local ones. They can be used for estimation of robust measures, like plumes spatial moments, longitudinal mass distribution and breakthrough curves at control planes.