Environmental Fluid Mechanics

, Volume 10, Issue 1–2, pp 103–120 | Cite as

Quantification of advective solute travel times and mass transport through hydrological catchments

  • Amélie DarracqEmail author
  • Georgia Destouni
  • Klas Persson
  • Carmen Prieto
  • Jerker Jarsjö
Original Article


This study has investigated and outlined the possible quantification and mapping of the distributions of advective solute travel times through hydrological catchments. These distributions are essential for understanding how local water flow and solute transport and attenuation processes affect the catchment-scale transport of solute, for instance with regard to biogeochemical cycling, contamination persistence and water quality. The spatial and statistical distributions of advective travel times have been quantified based on reported hydrological flow and mass-transport modeling results for two coastal Swedish catchments. The results show that the combined travel time distributions for the groundwater-stream network continuum in these catchments depend largely on the groundwater system and model representation, in particular regarding the spatial variability of groundwater hydraulic parameters (conductivity, porosity and gradient), and the possible contributions of slower/deeper groundwater flow components. Model assumptions about the spatial variability of groundwater hydraulic properties can thus greatly affect model results of catchment-scale solute spreading. The importance of advective travel time variability for the total mass delivery of naturally attenuated solute (tracer, nutrient, pollutant) from a catchment to its downstream water recipient depends on the product of catchment-average physical travel time and attenuation rate.


Hydrology Travel time Solute transport Natural attenuation Catchment Groundwater–surface water interactions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amélie Darracq
    • 1
    Email author
  • Georgia Destouni
    • 1
  • Klas Persson
    • 1
  • Carmen Prieto
    • 1
  • Jerker Jarsjö
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary GeologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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