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Title: Characterization of contaminant transport by gravity, capillarity and barometric pumping in heterogeneous. 1998 annual progress report

'The intent of this research program is to obtain an improved understanding of vadose zone transport processes and to develop field and modeling techniques required to characterize contaminant transport in the unsaturated zone at DOE sites. For surface spills and near-surface leaks of chemicals, the vadose zone may well become a long-term source of contamination for the underlying water table. Transport of contaminants can occur in both the liquid and gas phases of the unsaturated zone. This transport occurs naturally as a result of diffusion, buoyancy forces (gravity), capillarity and barometric pressure variations. In some cases transport can be enhanced by anisotropies present in hydrologic regimes. This is particularly true for gas-phase transport which may be subject to vertical pumping resulting from atmospheric pressure changes. For liquid-phase flows, heterogeneity may enhance the downward transport of contaminants to the water table depending on soil properties and the scale of the surface spill or near-surface leak. Characterization techniques based upon the dynamics of transport processes are likely to yield a better understanding of the potential for contaminant transport at a specific site than methods depending solely on hydrologic properties derived from a borehole. Such dynamic-characterization techniques can be useful for evaluating sitesmore » where contamination presently exists as well as for providing an objective basis to evaluate the efficacy of proposed as well as implemented clean-up technologies. The real-time monitoring of processes that may occur during clean-up of tank waste and the mobility of contaminants beneath the Hanford storage tanks during sluicing operations is one example of how techniques developed in this effort can be applied to current remediation problems. In the future, such dynamic-characterization methods might also be used as part of the site-characterization process for determining suitable locations of new DOE facilities that have the potential of introducing contamination into the vadose zone. This report summarizes work and accomplishments at the midpoint of the 3-year project. The authors have pursued the concept of a vadose-zone observatory (VZO) to provide the field laboratory necessary for carrying out the experiments required to achieve the goals of this research. The approach has been: (1) to carry out plume release experiments at a VZO allowing the acquisition of several different kinds of raw data that, (2) are analyzed and evaluated with the aid of highly detailed, diagnostic numerical models. Because the soil properties of a single VZO are unlikely to cover the full range of conditions encountered at all DOE facilities, the authors anticipate studying at least two and possibly three sites spanning a wide range of hydrologic and geologic properties.'« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
ON: DE00013611
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Lawrence Livermore National Lab., CA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Environmental Management (EM), Office of Science and Risk Policy
Country of Publication:
United States
44; 58; 54; Progress Report; Measuring Instruments; Flow Models; Remedial Action; PROGRESS REPORT; MEASURING INSTRUMENTS; FLOW MODELS; REMEDIAL ACTION