Environmental Earth Sciences

, 77:797 | Cite as

The effects of aquifer heterogeneity on the 3D numerical simulation of soil and groundwater contamination at a chlor-alkali site in China

  • Ge ChenEmail author
  • Yajun Sun
  • Jiayu Liu
  • Shougan Lu
  • Ling Feng
  • Xiang Chen
Original Article


The simulation of groundwater flow and solute transport at contaminated sites often neglects the important influence that aquifer heterogeneity can have on the sub-surface distribution of contaminants. In this paper, the method of transition probability for geological statistics (T-PROGS) included in the Groundwater Model System (GMS) was applied to a chlor-alkali-contaminated site that was sampled with 68 soil borings and 15 groundwater monitoring wells. A 3-D groundwater numerical model and solute transport model was developed that was constrained by soil and groundwater data from the site. The spatial distribution of chloroethylene concentrations was simulated for a number of times using the levels measured in the field as a baseline. The results of these simulations showed that shapes and distribution of contaminant plumes are irregular both vertically and horizontally. The solute-transport simulations indicated that much of the contamination will preferentially move in groundwater through silt and fine-sands whereas flow is largely blocked in clays. Consequently, fine sand and silts become the most seriously polluted zones at the site, whereas, areas underlain by clays are largely uncontaminated. Heterogeneous lithologies beneath a site increase the complexity of coupling simulations of soil and groundwater.


Transition probability Heterogeneous medium Groundwater contamination Chlor-alkali-contaminated site 



This work was supported by the Jiangsu Fangzheng Environmental Protection Design & Research Co., Ltd. The authors would like to thank the team (Shougan Lu, Ling Feng, Xiang Chen, Heng Wang and Song Wu) who conducted the soil and groundwater sampling, as well as Shuping Chen, who constructed the groundwater wells. Thanks were also given to Shanghai SEP Analytical Services Co., Ltd. for the laboratory tests of water and soil samples. In addition, we are grateful for the support of the government for management of this site. The authors would also like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments on the improvement of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Resources and GeosciencesChina University of Mining and TechnologyXuzhouChina
  2. 2.Jiangsu Fangzheng Environmental Protection Design and Research Co., LtdXuzhouChina

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