Anomalous dispersion in correlated porous media: a coupled continuous time random walk approach

  • Alessandro Comolli
  • Marco Dentz
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical issue: Continuous Time Random Walk Still Trendy: Fifty-year History, Current State and Outlook


We study the causes of anomalous dispersion in Darcy-scale porous media characterized by spatially heterogeneous hydraulic properties. Spatial variability in hydraulic conductivity leads to spatial variability in the flow properties through Darcy’s law and thus impacts on solute and particle transport. We consider purely advective transport in heterogeneity scenarios characterized by broad distributions of heterogeneity length scales and point values. Particle transport is characterized in terms of the stochastic properties of equidistantly sampled Lagrangian velocities, which are determined by the flow and conductivity statistics. The persistence length scales of flow and transport velocities are imprinted in the spatial disorder and reflect the distribution of heterogeneity length scales. Particle transitions over the velocity length scales are kinematically coupled with the transition time through velocity. We show that the average particle motion follows a coupled continuous time random walk (CTRW), which is fully parameterized by the distribution of flow velocities and the medium geometry in terms of the heterogeneity length scales. The coupled CTRW provides a systematic framework for the investigation of the origins of anomalous dispersion in terms of heterogeneity correlation and the distribution of conductivity point values. We derive analytical expressions for the asymptotic scaling of the moments of the spatial particle distribution and first arrival time distribution (FATD), and perform numerical particle tracking simulations of the coupled CTRW to capture the full average transport behavior. Broad distributions of heterogeneity point values and lengths scales may lead to very similar dispersion behaviors in terms of the spatial variance. Their mechanisms, however are very different, which manifests in the distributions of particle positions and arrival times, which plays a central role for the prediction of the fate of dissolved substances in heterogeneous natural and engineered porous materials.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTechnical University of Catalonia (UPC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Associated Unit: Hydrogeology Group (UPC-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

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