Numerical analysis of water and solute transport in variably-saturated fractured clayey till

Annette E. Rosenbom, Rene Therrien, Jens Christian Refsgaard, Karsten H. Jensen, Vibeke Ernstsen, Knud Erik S. Klint

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33 Citations (Scopus)


This study numerically investigates the influence of initial water content and rain intensities on the preferential migration of two fluorescent tracers, Acid Yellow 7 (AY7) and Sulforhodamine B (SB), through variably-saturated fractured clayey till. The simulations are based on the numerical model HydroGeoSphere, which solves 3D variably-saturated flow and solute transport in discretely-fractured porous media. Using detailed knowledge of the matrix, fracture, and biopore properties, the numerical model is calibrated and validated against experimental high-resolution tracer images/data collected under dry and wet soil conditions and for three different rain events. The model could reproduce reasonably well the observed preferential migration of AY7 and SB through the fractured till, although it did not capture the exact depth of migration and the negligible impact of the dead-end biopores in a near-saturated matrix. A sensitivity analysis suggests fast flow mechanisms and dynamic surface coating in the biopores, and the presence of a plough pan in the till.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-152
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2009


  • Biopore
  • Clayey till
  • Fluorescence tracer
  • Fracture
  • HydroGeoSphere
  • Preferential flow

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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