KWRRI Research Reports


This report presents the main results of an investigation on the nature and propagation of an accidental spill of chloroform in the Louisville aquifer, Kentucky. Much of the effort is concentrated on the development of mathematical models to either reconstruct the history of evolution of the plume, or forecast its propagation in the future. Chloroform is a dense halogenated solvent which exhibits a special migration pattern in porous media: Because of this and the relative absence of a conceptual theory on its hydrodynamics in porous media, meaningful predictive models will have to deal with many unresolved theoretical aspects of contaminant migration. Much of this report is devoted to the exploration of the theoretical aspects of migration of dense non-sorbing constituents in aquifers.

Chapter I formulates the fundamental models of propagation of chloroform in the Louisville aquifer. Two models that reconstruct the evolution of chloroform concentration in the unsaturated and the saturated zone are developed and verified with respect to the limited information provided by a field investigation performed by the U.S. Geological Survey. A measure of statistical uncertainty in the data and the models is also introduced as a tool useful for future forecasting problems. Chapter II analyses the effect of recharge from rainfall on the functional form of the dispersion coefficient and the groundwater velocity in mathematical models in an attempt to reduce the artificial estimation (guessing) of these parameters in propagation models of inert constituents. The problem of scale dependency of the parameters is studied in detail. Chapter Ill analyses the effect of aquifer heterogeneity on the functional form of propagation parameters and successfully derives practical expressions for their calculation as functions of the regional hydrology, aquifer hydrogeologic properties, and aquifer heterogeneity statistical properties.

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Funding Information

The work upon which this report is based was supported in part by funds provided by the United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., as authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1984. Public Law 101-397.