Modeling Water Infiltration and Solute Transfer in a Heterogeneous Vadose Zone as a Function of Entering Flow Rates

DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.713083   PDF   HTML   XML   3,719 Downloads   4,441 Views   Citations


Due to its rapid movement, preferential flow (PF) in the vadose zone allows much faster contaminant transport, which may have a significant impact on ground-water quality. PF can occur in heterogeneous vadose zones and it strongly depends on hydric and hydraulic conditions like entering flow rates at surface. This study deals with the modeling of the establishment of PF, and related solute transfer during the infiltration phase in a strongly heterogeneous glaciofluvial deposit. This deposit is made of four contrasting lithofacies (sand, gravel, bimodal gravel and matrix-free gravel) and lies underneath an urban infiltration basin (Lyon, France). Previous studies have been carried out on this site and linked the regionalization of soil pollution with the lithological heterogeneity. But none of them clearly demonstrated how heterogeneity could impact flow and solute transfer and may explain such a regionalization. In this study, we model flow and solute transfer at the trench scale for both uniform and heterogeneous profiles in order to characterize the effect of lithological heterogeneity. In addition, such a modeling was performed for two different entering flow rates to depict the influence of condition at surface on PF. A key result is that heterogeneity clearly impacts unsaturated flow and solute transfer. Numerical modeling permitted pointing out the existence of PF paths associated with the sedimentary heterogeneity of the glaciofluvial deposit. For lower surface fluxes, the sand lens and matrix-free gravel were the sources of capillary barrier effects, leading to a funneled flow and a groundwater recharge characterized by earlier and more dispersed wetting fronts. Such a flow pattern enhances solutes transfer and reduces solute retention by soil. Thus, the effect of heterogeneity on solute transfer is significant, especially for the most reactive solutes.

Share and Cite:

Ben Slimene, E. , Lassabatere, L. , Winiarski, T. and Gourdon, R. (2015) Modeling Water Infiltration and Solute Transfer in a Heterogeneous Vadose Zone as a Function of Entering Flow Rates. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 7, 1017-1028. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2015.713083.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Goutaland, D. (2008) Hydrogeophysical Characterization of a Glaciofluvial Deposit: Assessment of the Effect of Hydraulic Heterogeneity on Flow in the Vadose Zone. PhD Thesis, INSA-Lyon, Villeurbanne.
[2] Goutaland, D., Winiarski, T., Lassabatere, L., Dubé, J.S. and Angulo-Jaramillo, R. (2013) Sedimentary and Hydraulic Characterization of a Heterogeneous Glaciofluvial Deposit: Application to the Modeling of Unsaturated Flow. Engineering Geology, 166, 127-139.
[3] Winiarski, T., Lassabatere, L., Angulo-Jaramillo, R. and Goutaland, D. (2013) Characterization of the Heterogeneous Flow and Pollutant Transfer in the Unsaturated Zone in the Fluvio-Glacial Deposit. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 19, 955-964.
[4] de Rooij, G.H. (2000) Modeling Fingered Flow of Water in Soils Owing to Wetting Front Instability: A Review. Journal of Hydrology, 231-232, 277-294.
[5] Lin, H. and Zhou, X. (2008) Evidence of Subsurface Preferential Flow Using Soil Hydrologic Monitoring in the Shale Hills Catchment. European Journal of Soil Science, 59, 34-49.
[6] Beven, K. and Germann, P. (1982) Macropores and Water Flow in Soils. Water Resources Research, 18, 1311-1325.
[7] Glass, R.J., Steenhuis, T.S. and Parlange, J.-Y. (1989) Wetting Front Instability: 2. Experimental Determination of Relationships between System Parameters and Two-Dimensional Unstable Flow Field Behavior in Initially Dry Porous Media. Water Resources Research, 25, 1195-1207.
[8] Kung, K.-J.S. (1990) Preferential Flow in a Sandy Vadose Zone: 1. Field Observation. Geoderma, 46, 51-58.
[9] Ritsema, C.J., Dekker, L.W., Hendrickx, J.M.H. and Hamminga, W. (1993) Preferential Flow Mechanism in a Water Repellent Sandy Soil. Water Resources Research, 29, 2183-2193.
[10] Clothier, B.E., Green, S.R. and Deurer, M. (2008) Preferential Flow and Transport in Soil: Progress and Prognosis. European Journal of Soil Science, 59, 2-13.
[11] Flury, M. and Flühler, H. (1994) Brilliant Blue FCF as a Dye Tracer for Solute Transport Studies—A Toxicological Overview. Journal of Environmental Quality, 23, 1108-1112.
[12] Simunek, J., Jarvis, N.J., van Genuchten, M.Th. and Gärdenäs, A. (2003) Review and Comparison of Models for Describing Non-Equilibrium and Preferential Flow and Transport in the Vadose Zone. Journal of Hydrology, 272, 14-35.
[13] Bear, J. (1972) Dynamics of Fluids in Porous Media. Courier Corporation.
[14] vanGenuchten, M.Th. (1980) A Closed-Form Equation for Predicting the Hydraulic Conductivity of Unsaturated Soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 44, 892-898.
[15] Simunek, J. and van Genuchten, M.Th. (2008) Modeling Nonequilibrium Flow and Transport Processes Using HYDRUS. Vadose Zone Journal, 7, 782-797.
[16] Limousin, G., Gaudet, J.-P., Charlet, L., Szenknect, S., Barthès, V. and Krimissa, M. (2007) Sorption Isotherms: A Review on Physical Bases, Modeling and Measurement. Applied Geochemistry, 22, 249-275.
[17] K öhne, J.M., K öhne, S. and Simunek, J. (2009) A Review of Model Applications for Structured Soils: A) Water Flow and Tracer Transport. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 104, 4-35.
[18] K öhne, J.M., K öhne, S. and Simunek, J. (2009) A Review of Model Applications for Structured Soils: B) Pesticide Transport. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 104, 36-60.
[19] Gaudet, J.-P., Jegat, H., Vachaud, G. and Wierenga, P.J. (1977) Solute Transfer, with Exchange between Mobile and Stagnant Water, through Unsaturated Sand. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 41, 665-671.
[20] Winiarski, T., Bedell, J.-P., Delolme, C. and Perrodin, Y. (2006) The Impact of Stormwater on a Soil Profile in an Infiltration Basin. Hydrogeology Journal, 14, 1244-1251.
[21] Barraud, S., Gibert, J., Winiarski, T. and Krajewski, B. (2002) Implementation of a Monitoring System to Measure Impact of Stormwater Runoff Infiltration. Water Science & Technology, 45, 203-210.
[22] Lassabatere, L., Angulo-Jaramillo, R., Goutaland, D., Letellier, L., Gaudet, J., Winiarski, T. and Delolme, C. (2010) Effect of the Settlement of Sediments on Water Infiltration in Two Urban Infiltration Basins. Geoderma, 156, 316-325.
[23] Hillel, D. (1998) Environmental Soil Physics: Fundamentals, Applications, and Environmental Considerations. Academic Press, Waltham.
[24] Lassabatere, L., Angulo-Jaramillo, R., Soria Ugalde, J.M., Cuenca, R., Braud, I. and Haverkamp, R. (2006) Beerkan Estimation of Soil Transfer Parameters through Infiltration Experiments-BEST. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 70, 521-532.
[25] Arya, L.M. and Paris, J.F. (1981) A Physicoempirical Model to Predict the Soil Moisture Characteristic from Particle-Size Distribution and Bulk Density Data. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 45, 1023-1030.
[26] Miyazaki, T. (1988) Water Flow in Unsaturated Soil in Layered Slopes. Journal of Hydrology, 102, 201-214.
[27] Walter, M.T., Kim, J.-S., Steenhuis, T.S., Parlange, J.-Y., Heilig, A., Braddock, R.D., Selker, J.S., and Boll, J. (2000) Funneled Flow Mechanisms in a Sloping Layered Soil: Laboratory Investigation. Water Resources Research, 36, 841-849.
[28] Kung, K.-J.S. (1990) Preferential Flow in a Sandy Vadose Zone: 2. Mechanism and Implications. Geoderma, 46, 59-71.
[29] Lassabatere, L., Spadini, L., Delolme, C., Février, L., Galvez-Cloutier, R. and Winiarski, T. (2007) Concomitant Zn-Cd and Pb Retention in a Carbonated Fluvio-Glacial Deposit under both Static and Dynamic Conditions. Chemosphere, 69, 1499-1508.
[30] Lamy, E., Lassabatere, L., Bechet, B. and Andrieu, H. (2013) Effect of a Nonwoven Geotextile on Solute and Colloid Transport in Porous Media under both Saturated and Unsaturated Conditions. Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 36, 55-65.
[31] Lassabatere, L., Winiarski, T. and Galvez-Cloutier, R. (2004) Retention of Three Heavy Metals (Zn, Pb, and Cd) in a Calcareous Soil Controlled by the Modification of Flow with Geotextiles. Environmental Science & Technology, 38, 4215-4221.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.