A Practical Modeling Framework for Non-Fickian Transport and Multi-Species Sequential First-Order Reaction

Daniel K. Burnell, Jie Xu, Scott K. Hansen, Lawrence S. Sims, Charles R. Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many studies indicate that small-scale heterogeneity and/or mobile–immobile mass exchange produce transient non-Fickian plume behavior that is not well captured by the use of the standard, deterministic advection-dispersion equation (ADE). An extended ADE modeling framework is presented here that is based on continuous time random walk theory. It can be used to characterize non-Fickian transport coupled with simultaneous sequential first-order reactions (e.g., biodegradation or radioactive decay) for multiple degrading contaminants such as chlorinated solvents, royal demolition explosive, pesticides, and radionuclides. To demonstrate this modeling framework, new transient analytical solutions are derived and are inverted in Laplace space. Closed-form, steady-state, multi-species analytical solutions are also derived for non-Fickian transport in highly heterogeneous aquifers with linear sorption–desorption and matrix diffusion for use in spreadsheets. The solutions are general enough to allow different degradation rates for the mobile and immobile zones. The transient solutions for multi-species transport are applied to examine the effects of source remediation on the natural attenuation of downgradient plumes of both parent and degradation products in highly heterogeneous aquifers. Results for representative settings show that the use of the standard, deterministic ADE can over-estimate cleanup rates and under-predict the cleanup timeframe in comparison to the extended ADE analytical model. The modeling framework and calculations introduced here are also applied for a 30 year groundwater cleanup program at a site in Palm Bay, Florida. The simulated plume concentrations using the extended ADE exhibited agreement with observed long concentration tails of trichloroethene, cis 1,2 DCE, and VC that remained above cleanup goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-540
Number of pages17
JournalGround Water
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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