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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Estimation and upscaling of dual-permeability model parameters for the transport of E. coli D21g in soils with preferential flow

  • Author(s): Wang, Y
  • Bradford, SA
  • Šimůnek, J
  • et al.

Dual-permeability models are increasingly used to quantify the transport of solutes and microorganisms in soils with preferential flow. An ability to accurately determine the model parameters and their variation with preferential pathway characteristics is crucial for predicting the transport of microorganisms in the field. The dual-permeability model with optimized parameters was able to accurately describe the transport of E. coli D21g in columns with artificial macropores of different configurations and lengths at two ionic strength levels (1 and 20 mM NaCl). Correlations between the model parameters and the structural geometry of the preferential flow path were subsequently investigated. Decreasing the macropore length produced a decrease in the apparent saturated hydraulic conductivity of the macropore domain and an increase in the mass transfer between the macropore and matrix domains. The mass transfer coefficient was also found to be dependent on the configuration of the preferential flow pathway. A linear superposition approach was used to estimate field-scale preferential transport behavior for hypothetical fields with different amounts and configurations of macropores. Upscaling procedures were numerically investigated to predict this field-scale transport behavior from column-scale parameters. The upscaling method provided a satisfactory prediction of the field results under the tested scenarios. This information will be useful in assessing the risks of microbial transport due to preferential flow. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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