Mathematical Geology

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 217–238 | Cite as

Stochastic Modeling of Variably Saturated Transient Flow in Fractal Porous Media

  • Luis Guarracino
  • Juan E. Santos


This work presents the application of a Monte Carlo simulation method to perform an statistical analysis of transient variably saturated flow in an hypothetical random porous media. For each realization of the stochastic soil parameters entering as coefficients in Richards' flow equation, the pressure head and the flow field are computed using a mixed finite element procedure for the spatial discretization combined with a backward Euler and a modified Picard iteration in time. The hybridization of the mixed method provides a novel way for evaluating hydraulic conductivity on interelement boundaries. The proposed methodology can handle both large variability and fractal structure in the hydraulic parameters. The saturated conductivity Ks and the shape parameter αvg in the van Genuchten model are treated as stochastic fractal functions known as fractional Brownian motion (fBm) or fractional Gaussian noise (fGn). The statistical moments of the pressure head, water content, and flow components are obtained by averaging realizations of the fractal parameters in Monte Carlo fashion. A numerical example showing the application of the proposed methodology to characterize groundwater flow in highly heterogeneous soils is presented.

unsteady unsaturated flow finite elements heterogeneous soils 


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geology 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Guarracino
    • 1
  • Juan E. Santos
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y GeofísicasUniversidad Nacional de La PlataLa PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette

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