Probabilistic Sensitivity and Modeling of Two-Dimensional Transport in Porous Media


A reliability approach is used to develop a probabilistic model of two-dimensional non-reactive and reactive contaminant transport in porous media. The reliability approach provides two important quantitative results: an estimate of the probability that contaminant concentration is exceeded at some location and time, and measures of the sensitivity of the probabilistic outcome to likely changes in the uncertain variables. The method requires that each uncertain variable be assigned at least a mean and variance; in this work we also incorporate and investigate the influence of marginal probability distributions. Uncertain variables include x and y components of average groundwater flow velocity, x and y components of dispersivity, diffusion coefficient, distribution coefficient, porosity and bulk density. The objective is to examine the relative importance of each uncertain variable, the marginal distribution assigned to each variable, and possible correlation between the variables. Results utilizing a two-dimensional analytical solution indicate that the probabilistic outcome is generally very sensitive to likely changes in the uncertain flow velocity. Uncertainty associated with dispersivity and diffusion coefficient is often not a significant issue with respect to the probabilistic analysis; therefore, dispersivity and diffusion coefficient can often be treated for practical analysis as deterministic constants. The probabilistic outcome is sensitive to the uncertainty of the reaction terms for early times in the flow event. At later times, when source contaminants are released at constant rate throughout the study period, the probabilistic outcome may not be sensitive to changes in the reaction terms. These results, although limited at present by assumptions and conceptual restrictions inherent to the closed-form analytical solution, provide insight into the critical issues to consider in a probabilistic analysis of contaminant transport. Such information concerning the most important uncertain parameters can be used to guide field and laboratory investigations.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Contaminant Transport; Probabilistic Model; Sensitivity

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 1992 Springer Verlag, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 1992