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An analytical model for solute transport in an infiltration tracer test in soil with a shallow groundwater table
- Liang, Ching-Ping, Hsu, Shao-Yiu, Chen, Jui-Sheng
- Journal of hydrology 2016 v.540 pp. 129-141
- geometry, models, prediction, soil, solutes, tracer techniques, vadose zone, water table
- It is recommended that an in-situ infiltration tracer test is considered for simultaneously determining the longitudinal and transverse dispersion coefficients in soil. Analytical solutions have been derived for two-dimensional advective–dispersive transport in a radial geometry in the literature which can be used for interpreting the result of such a tracer test. However, these solutions were developed for a transport domain with an unbounded-radial extent and an infinite thickness of vadose zone which might not be realistically manifested in the actual solute transport during a field infiltration tracer test. Especially, the assumption of infinite thickness of vadose zone should be invalid for infiltration tracer tests conducted in soil with a shallow groundwater table. This paper describes an analytical model for interpreting the results of an infiltration tracer test based on improving the transport domain with a bounded-radial extent and a finite thickness of vadose zone. The analytical model is obtained with the successive application of appropriate integral transforms and their corresponding inverse transforms. A comparison of the newly derived analytical solution against the previous analytical solutions in which two distinct sets of radial extent and thickness of vadose zone are considered is conducted to determine the influence of the radial and exit boundary conditions on the solute transport. The results shows that both the radial and exit boundary conditions substantially affect the trailing segment of the breakthrough curves for a soil medium with large dispersion coefficients. Previous solutions derived for a transport domain with an unbounded-radial and an infinite thickness of vadose zone boundary conditions give lower concentration predictions compared with the proposed solution at late times. Moreover, the differences between two solutions are amplified when the observation positions are near the groundwater table. In addition, we compare our solution against the approximate solutions that derived from the previous analytical solution and has been suggested to serve as fast tools for simultaneously estimating the longitudinal and transverse dispersion coefficients. The results indicate that the approximate solutions offer predictions that are markedly distinct from our solution for the entire range of dispersion coefficient values. Thus, it is not appropriate to use the approximate solution for interpreting the results of an infiltration tracer test.