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Unsaturated Transport with Linear Kinetic Sorption Under Unsteady Vertical Flow

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We consider transport of a solute obeying linear kinetic sorption under unsteady flow conditions. The study relies on the vertical unsaturated flow model developed by Indelman et al. [J. Contam. Hydrol. 32 (1998), 77–97] to account for a cycle of infiltration and redistribution. One of the main features of this type of transport, as compared with the case of a continuous water infiltration, is the finite depth of solute penetration. In the infiltration stage an analytical solution that generalizes the previous results of Lassey [Water Resour. Res. 24 (1988), 343–350] and Severino and Indelman [J. Contam. Hydrol. 70 (2004), 89–115] is derived. This solution accounts for quite general initial solute distributions in both the mobile and immobile concentration. When the redistribution is also considered, two timescales become relevant, namely: (i) the desorption rate k−1, and (ii) the water application time tap. In particular, we have assumed that the quantity ε =(k tap)−1 can be regarded as a small parameter so that a perturbation analytical solution is obtained. At field-scale the concentration is calculated by means of the column model of Dagan and Bresler [Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 43 (1979), 461–467], i.e. as ensemble average over an infinite series of randomly distributed and uncorrelated soil columns. It is shown that the heterogeneity of hydraulic properties produces an additional spreading of the plume. An unusual phenomenon of plume contraction is observed at long times of solute propagation during the drying period. The mean solute penetration depth is studied with special emphasis on the impact of the variability of the saturated conductivity upon attaining the maximum solute penetration depth.

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Correspondence to G. Severino.

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Severino, G., Monetti, V.M., Santini, A. et al. Unsaturated Transport with Linear Kinetic Sorption Under Unsteady Vertical Flow. Transp Porous Med 63, 147–174 (2006).

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  • linear kinetic sorption
  • unsaturated porous media
  • infiltration and redistribution
  • heterogeneity
  • stochastic modelling