Evidence of distinct contaminant transport patterns in rivers using tracer tests and a multiple domain retention model
2011 (English)In: Advances in Water Resources, ISSN 0309-1708, E-ISSN 1872-9657, Vol. 34, no 6, 737-746 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Solute transport in rivers is controlled by surface hydrodynamics and by mass exchanges with distinct retention zones. Surface and hyporheic retention processes can be accounted for separately in solute transport models with multiple storage compartments. In the simplest two component model, short term storage can be associated to in-channel transient retention, e.g. produced by riparian vegetation or surface dead zones, and the long-term storage can be associated to hyporheic exchange. The STIR (Solute Transport In Rivers) multiple domain transport model is applied here to tracer test data from three very different Mediterranean streams with distinctive characteristics in terms of flow discharge, vegetation and substrate material. The model is used with an exponential residence time distribution (RTD) to represent surface storage processes and two distinct modeling closures are tested to simulate hyporheic retention: a second exponential RTD and a power-law distribution approximating a known solution for bedform-induced hyporheic exchange. Each stream shows distinct retention patterns characterized by different timescales of the storage time distribution. Both modeling closures lead to very good approximations of the observed breakthrough curves in the two rivers with permeable bed exposed to the flow, where hyporheic flows are expected to occur. In the one case where the occurrence of hyporheic flows is inhibited by bottom vegetation, only the two exponential RTD model is acceptable and the time scales of the two components are of the same magnitude. The significant finding of this work is the recognition of a strong signature of the river properties on tracer data and the evidence of the ability of multiple-component models to describe individual stream responses. This evidence may open a new perspective in river contamination studies, where rivers could possibly be classified based on their ability to trap and release pollutants.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2011. Vol. 34, no 6, 737-746 p.
Solute transport; Transient storage; Contaminant retention; Dead zones; Hyporheic exchange; STIR
Ocean and River Engineering
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-81017DOI: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2011.03.005ISI: 000291514300006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-81017DiVA: diva2:497047
QC 201202142012-02-142012-02-102012-02-14Bibliographically approved