TY - JOUR

T1 - Local Equilibrium and Retardation Revisited

AU - Hansen, Scott K.

AU - Vesselinov, Velimir V.

N1 - Publisher Copyright:
Published 2017. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - In modeling solute transport with mobile-immobile mass transfer (MIMT), it is common to use an advection-dispersion equation (ADE) with a retardation factor, or retarded ADE. This is commonly referred to as making the local equilibrium assumption (LEA). Assuming local equilibrium, Eulerian textbook treatments derive the retarded ADE, ostensibly exactly. However, other authors have presented rigorous mathematical derivations of the dispersive effect of MIMT, applicable even in the case of arbitrarily fast mass transfer. We resolve the apparent contradiction between these seemingly exact derivations by adopting a Lagrangian point of view. We show that local equilibrium constrains the expected time immobile, whereas the retarded ADE actually embeds a stronger, nonphysical, constraint: that all particles spend the same amount of every time increment immobile. Eulerian derivations of the retarded ADE thus silently commit the gambler's fallacy, leading them to ignore dispersion due to mass transfer that is correctly modeled by other approaches. We then present a particle tracking simulation illustrating how poor an approximation the retarded ADE may be, even when mobile and immobile plumes are continually near local equilibrium. We note that classic “LEA” (actually, retarded ADE validity) criteria test for insignificance of MIMT-driven dispersion relative to hydrodynamic dispersion, rather than for local equilibrium.

AB - In modeling solute transport with mobile-immobile mass transfer (MIMT), it is common to use an advection-dispersion equation (ADE) with a retardation factor, or retarded ADE. This is commonly referred to as making the local equilibrium assumption (LEA). Assuming local equilibrium, Eulerian textbook treatments derive the retarded ADE, ostensibly exactly. However, other authors have presented rigorous mathematical derivations of the dispersive effect of MIMT, applicable even in the case of arbitrarily fast mass transfer. We resolve the apparent contradiction between these seemingly exact derivations by adopting a Lagrangian point of view. We show that local equilibrium constrains the expected time immobile, whereas the retarded ADE actually embeds a stronger, nonphysical, constraint: that all particles spend the same amount of every time increment immobile. Eulerian derivations of the retarded ADE thus silently commit the gambler's fallacy, leading them to ignore dispersion due to mass transfer that is correctly modeled by other approaches. We then present a particle tracking simulation illustrating how poor an approximation the retarded ADE may be, even when mobile and immobile plumes are continually near local equilibrium. We note that classic “LEA” (actually, retarded ADE validity) criteria test for insignificance of MIMT-driven dispersion relative to hydrodynamic dispersion, rather than for local equilibrium.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85041036083&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/gwat.12566

DO - 10.1111/gwat.12566

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85041036083

SN - 0017-467X

VL - 56

SP - 109

EP - 117

JO - Ground Water

JF - Ground Water

IS - 1

ER -