Faculté des sciences

Groundwater age, life expectancy and transit time distributions in advective–dispersive systems : 1. Generalized reservoir theory

Cornaton, Fabien ; Perrochet, Pierre

In: Advances in Water Resources, 2006, vol. 29, no. 9, p. 1267-1291

We present a methodology for determining reservoir groundwater age and transit time probability distributions in a deterministic manner, considering advective–dispersive transport in steady velocity fields. In a first step, we propose to model the statistical distribution of groundwater age at aquifer scale by means of the classical advection–dispersion equation for a conservative and... Plus

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    Summary
    We present a methodology for determining reservoir groundwater age and transit time probability distributions in a deterministic manner, considering advective–dispersive transport in steady velocity fields. In a first step, we propose to model the statistical distribution of groundwater age at aquifer scale by means of the classical advection–dispersion equation for a conservative and non-reactive tracer, associated to proper boundary conditions. The evaluated function corresponds to the density of probability of the random variable age, age being defined as the time elapsed since the water particles entered the aquifer. An adjoint backward model is introduced to characterize the life expectancy distribution, life expectancy being the time remaining before leaving the aquifer. By convolution of these two distributions, groundwater transit time distributions, from inlet to outlet, are fully defined for the entire aquifer domain. In a second step, an accurate and efficient method is introduced to simulate the transit time distribution at discharge zones. By applying the reservoir theory to advective–dispersive aquifer systems, we demonstrate that the discharge zone transit time distribution can be evaluated if the internal age probability distribution is known. The reservoir theory also applies to internal life expectancy probabilities yielding the recharge zone life expectancy distribution. Internal groundwater volumes are finally identified with respect to age and transit time. One- and two-dimensional theoretical examples are presented to illustrate the proposed mathematical models, and make inferences on the effect of aquifer structure and macro-dispersion on the distributions of age, life expectancy and transit time.