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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Simulation of groundwater flow at the LBNL site using TOUGH2


In the late 1980s, groundwater contamination was detected at the site of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). A detailed investigation was conducted to locate the source and the extent of the contamination. Interim corrective measures were initiated where appropriate and required, typically directed towards removing the source of contamination, excavating contaminated soil, and limiting further spreading of contaminants. As the first step for predicting the fate of remaining contaminants, a three-dimensional transient groundwater flow model was developed for the complex hydrogeological situation. This flow model captured strong variations in thickness, slope, and hydrogeological properties of geologic units, representative of a mountainous groundwater system with accentuated morphology. The flow model accounts for strong seasonal fluctuations in the groundwater table. Other significant factors are local recharge from leaking underground stormdrains and significant water recharge from steep hills located upstream. The strong heterogeneous rock properties were calibrated using the inverse simulator ITOUGH2. For validation purposes, the model was calibrated for a time period from 1994 to 1996, and then applied to a period from 1996 to 1998. Comparison of simulated and measured water levels demonstrated that the model accurately represents the complex flow situation, including the significant seasonal fluctuations in water table and flow rate. Paths of particles originating from contaminant plumes in the simulated transient flow fields were obtained to represent advective transport.

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