Transport of kinetically sorbing solutes in heterogeneous sediments with multimodal conductivity and hierarchical organization across scales

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Solute transport in subsurface environments is controlled by geological heterogeneity over multiple scales. In reactive transport characterized by a low Damköhler number, it is also controlled by the rate of kinetic mass transfer. A theory for addressing the impact of sedimentary texture on the transport of kinetically sorbing solutes in heterogeneous porous formations is derived using the Lagrangian-based stochastic methodology. The resulting model represents the hierarchical organization of sedimentary textures and associated modes of log conductivity (K) for sedimentary units through a hierarchical Markov Chain. The model characterizes kinetic sorption using a spatially uniform linear reversible rate expression. Our main interest is to investigate the effect of sorption kinetics relative to the effects of K heterogeneity on the dispersion of a reactive plume. We study the contribution of each scale of stratal architecture to the dispersion of kinetically sorbing solutes in the case of a low Damköhler number. Examples are used to demonstrate the time evolution and relative contributions of the auto- and cross-transition probability terms to dispersion. Our analysis is focused on the model sensitivity to the parameters defined at each hierarchical level (scale) including the integral scales of K spatial correlation, the anisotropy ratio, the indicator correlation scales, and the contrast in mean K between facies defined at different scales. The results show that the anisotropy ratio and integral scales of K have negligible effect upon the longitudinal dispersion of sorbing solutes. Furthermore, dispersion of sorbing solutes depends mostly on indicator correlation scales, and the contrast of the mean conductivity between units at different scales.



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