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Title: Real-case benchmark for flow and tracer transport in the fractured rock

Abstract

The paper is intended to define a benchmark problem related to groundwater flow and natural tracer transport using observations of discharge and isotopic tracers in fractured, crystalline rock. Three numerical simulators: Flow123d, OpenGeoSys, and PFLOTRAN are compared. The data utilized in the project were collected in a water-supply tunnel in granite of the Jizera Mountains, Bedrichov, Czech Republic. The problem configuration combines subdomains of different dimensions, 3D continuum for hard-rock blocks or matrix and 2D features for fractures or fault zones, together with realistic boundary conditions for tunnel-controlled drainage. Steady-state and transient flow and a pulse injection tracer transport problem are solved. The results confirm mostly consistent behavior of the codes. Both the codes Flow123d and OpenGeoSys with 3D–2D coupling implemented differ by several percent in most cases, which is appropriate to, e.g., effects of discrete unknown placing in the mesh. Some of the PFLOTRAN results differ more, which can be explained by effects of the dispersion tensor evaluation scheme and of the numerical diffusion. Here, the phenomenon can get stronger with fracture/matrix coupling and with parameter magnitude contrasts. Although the study was not aimed on inverse solution, the models were fit to the measured data approximately, demonstrating the intendedmore » real-case relevance of the benchmark.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [4];  [5]
  1. Technical Univ. of Liberec, Liberec (Czech Republic)
  2. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hanover (Germany)
  3. Univ. of Montana, Missoula, MT (United States); Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  4. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  5. Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO), Praha (Czech Republic)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1325397
Report Number(s):
SAND-2016-12360J
Journal ID: ISSN 1866-6280; PII: 6061
Grant/Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Earth Sciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 75; Journal Issue: 18; Journal ID: ISSN 1866-6280
Publisher:
Springer-Verlag
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; numerical model; tunnel inflow; natural tracer; transit time; multidimensional; code comparison

Citation Formats

Hokr, M., Shao, H., Gardner, W. P., Balvin, A., Kunz, H., Wang, Y., and Vencl, M. Real-case benchmark for flow and tracer transport in the fractured rock. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1007/s12665-016-6061-z.
Hokr, M., Shao, H., Gardner, W. P., Balvin, A., Kunz, H., Wang, Y., & Vencl, M. Real-case benchmark for flow and tracer transport in the fractured rock. United States. doi:10.1007/s12665-016-6061-z.
Hokr, M., Shao, H., Gardner, W. P., Balvin, A., Kunz, H., Wang, Y., and Vencl, M. 2016. "Real-case benchmark for flow and tracer transport in the fractured rock". United States. doi:10.1007/s12665-016-6061-z.
@article{osti_1325397,
title = {Real-case benchmark for flow and tracer transport in the fractured rock},
author = {Hokr, M. and Shao, H. and Gardner, W. P. and Balvin, A. and Kunz, H. and Wang, Y. and Vencl, M.},
abstractNote = {The paper is intended to define a benchmark problem related to groundwater flow and natural tracer transport using observations of discharge and isotopic tracers in fractured, crystalline rock. Three numerical simulators: Flow123d, OpenGeoSys, and PFLOTRAN are compared. The data utilized in the project were collected in a water-supply tunnel in granite of the Jizera Mountains, Bedrichov, Czech Republic. The problem configuration combines subdomains of different dimensions, 3D continuum for hard-rock blocks or matrix and 2D features for fractures or fault zones, together with realistic boundary conditions for tunnel-controlled drainage. Steady-state and transient flow and a pulse injection tracer transport problem are solved. The results confirm mostly consistent behavior of the codes. Both the codes Flow123d and OpenGeoSys with 3D–2D coupling implemented differ by several percent in most cases, which is appropriate to, e.g., effects of discrete unknown placing in the mesh. Some of the PFLOTRAN results differ more, which can be explained by effects of the dispersion tensor evaluation scheme and of the numerical diffusion. Here, the phenomenon can get stronger with fracture/matrix coupling and with parameter magnitude contrasts. Although the study was not aimed on inverse solution, the models were fit to the measured data approximately, demonstrating the intended real-case relevance of the benchmark.},
doi = {10.1007/s12665-016-6061-z},
journal = {Environmental Earth Sciences},
number = 18,
volume = 75,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 9
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1007/s12665-016-6061-z

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 1work
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  • The paper is intended to define a benchmark problem related to groundwater flow and natural tracer transport using observations of discharge and isotopic tracers in fractured, crystalline rock. Three numerical simulators: Flow123d, OpenGeoSys, and PFLOTRAN are compared. The data utilized in the project were collected in a water-supply tunnel in granite of the Jizera Mountains, Bedrichov, Czech Republic. The problem configuration combines subdomains of different dimensions, 3D continuum for hard-rock blocks or matrix and 2D features for fractures or fault zones, together with realistic boundary conditions for tunnel-controlled drainage. Steady-state and transient flow and a pulse injection tracer transport problemmore » are solved. The results confirm mostly consistent behavior of the codes. Both the codes Flow123d and OpenGeoSys with 3D–2D coupling implemented differ by several percent in most cases, which is appropriate to, e.g., effects of discrete unknown placing in the mesh. Some of the PFLOTRAN results differ more, which can be explained by effects of the dispersion tensor evaluation scheme and of the numerical diffusion. Here, the phenomenon can get stronger with fracture/matrix coupling and with parameter magnitude contrasts. Although the study was not aimed on inverse solution, the models were fit to the measured data approximately, demonstrating the intended real-case relevance of the benchmark.« less
  • Understanding colloid transport in ground water is essential to assessing the migration of colloid-size contaminants, the facilitation of dissolved contaminant transport by colloids, in situ bioremediation, and the health risks of pathogen contamination in drinking water wells. Much has been learned through laboratory and field-scale colloid tracer tests, but progress has been hampered by a lack of consistent tracer testing methodology at different scales and fluid velocities. This paper presents laboratory and field tracer tests in fractured rock that use the same type of colloid tracer over an almost three orders-of-magnitude range in scale and fluid velocity. Fluorescently-dyed carboxylate-modified latexmore » (CML) microspheres were used as tracers in (1) a naturally fractured tuff sample, (2) a large block of naturally fractured granite, (3) a fractured granite field site, and (4) another fractured granite/schist field site. In all cases, the mean transport time of the microspheres was shorter than the solutes, regardless of detection limit. In all but the smallest scale test, only a fraction of the injected microsphere mass was recovered, with the smaller microspheres being recovered to a greater extent than the larger microspheres. Using existing theory, the authors hypothesize that the observed microsphere early arrival was due to volume exclusion and attenuation was due to aggregation and/or settling during transport. In most tests, microspheres were detected using flow cytometry, which proved to be an excellent method of analysis. CML microspheres appear to be useful tracers for fractured rock in forced gradient and short-term natural gradient tests, but longer residence times may result in small microsphere recoveries.« less
  • Precipitation-dissolution reactions are important for a number of applications such as isotopic tracer transport in the subsurface. Analytical solutions have been developed for tracer transport in both single-fracture and multiple-fracture systems associated with these reactions under transient and steady-state transport conditions. These solutions also take into account advective transport in fractures and molecular diffusion in the rock matrix. For studying distributions of disturbed tracer concentration (the difference between actual concentration and its equilibrium value), effects of precipitation-dissolution reactions are mathematically equivalent to a 'decay' process with a decay constant proportional to the corresponding bulk reaction rate. This important feature significantlymore » simplifies the derivation procedure by taking advantage of the existence of analytical solutions for tracer transport associated with radioactive decay in fractured rock. It is also useful for interpreting tracer breakthrough curves, because the impact of a decay process is relatively easy to analyze. Several illustrative examples are presented, which show that the results are sensitive to fracture spacing, matrix diffusion coefficient (fracture surface area), and bulk reaction rate (or 'decay' constant), indicating that the relevant flow and transport parameters may be estimated by analyzing tracer signals.« less
  • The heterogeneity of hydrogeologic properties at different scales may have different effects on flow and transport processes in a subsurface system. A model for the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada, is developed to represent complex heterogeneity at two different scales: (1) layer scale corresponding to geologic layering and (2) local scale. The layer-scale hydrogeologic properties are obtained using inverse modeling, based on the available measurements collected from the Yucca Mountain site. Calibration results show a significant lateral and vertical variability in matrix and fracture properties. Hydrogeologic property distributions in a two-dimensional, vertical cross section of the site are generatedmore » by combining the average layer-scale matrix and fracture properties with local-scale perturbations generated using a stochastic simulation method. The unsaturated water flow and conservative (nonsorbing) tracer transport through the cross section are simulated for different sets of matrix and fracture property fields. Comparison of simulation results indicates that the local-scale heterogeneity of matrix and fracture properties has a considerable effect on unsaturated flow processes, leading to fast flow paths in fractures and the matrix. These paths shorten the travel time of a conservative tracer from the source (repository) horizon in the unsaturated zone to the water table for small fractions of total released tracer mass. As a result, the local-scale heterogeneity also has a noticeable effect on global tracer transport processes, characterized by an average breakthrough curve at the water table, especially at the early arrival time of tracer mass. However, the effect is not significant at the later time after 20 percent tracer mass reaches the water table. The simulation results also verify that matrix diffusion plays an important role in overall solute transport processes in the unsaturated zone at Yucca Mountain.« less
  • Because the continuum approach is relatively simple and straightforward to implement, it has been commonly used in modeling flow and transport in unsaturated fractured rock. However, the usefulness of this approach can be questioned in terms of its adequacy for representing fingering flow and transport in unsaturated fractured rock. The continuum approach thus needs to be evaluated carefully by comparing simulation results with field observations directly related to unsaturated flow and transport processes. This paper reports on such an evaluation, based on a combination of model calibration and prediction, using data from an infiltration test carried out in a denselymore » fractured rock within the unsaturated zone of Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Comparisons between experimental and modeling results show that the continuum approach may be able to capture important features of flow and transport processes observed from the test. The modeling results also show that matrix diffusion may have a significant effect on the overall transport behavior in unsaturated fractured rocks, which can be used to estimate effective fracture-matrix interface areas based on tracer transport data. While more theoretical, numerical, and experimental studies are needed to provide a conclusive evaluation, this study suggests that the continuum approach is useful for modeling flow and transport in unsaturated, densely fractured rock.« less