Evidence Based Estimation of Macrodispersivity for Groundwater Transport Applications

Alraune Zech*, Sabine Attinger, Alberto Bellin, Vladimir Cvetkovic, Gedeon Dagan, Peter Dietrich, Aldo Fiori, Georg Teutsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The scope of this work is to discuss the proper choice of macrodispersion coefficients in modeling contaminant transport through the advection dispersion equation (ADE). It is common to model solute concentrations in transport by groundwater with the aid of the ADE. Spreading is quantified by macrodispersivity coefficients, which are much larger than the laboratory observed pore-scale dispersivities. In the frame of stochastic theory, longitudinal macrodispersivity is related to the hydraulic conductivity spatial variability via its statistical moments (mean, variance, integral scales), which are generally determined by geostatistical analysis of field measurements. In many cases, especially for preliminary assessment of contaminant spreading, these data are not available and ad hoc values are adopted by practitioners. The present study aims at recommending dispersivity values based on a thorough analysis of tens of field experiments. Aquifers are classified as of weak, medium, and high heterogeneity and for each class a range of macrodispersivity values is recommended. Much less data are available for the transverse macrodispersivities, which are significantly smaller than the longitudinal one. Nevertheless, a few realistic values based on field data, are recommended for applications. Transport models using macrodispersivities can predict mean concentrations, different from the local ones. They can be used for estimation of robust measures, like plumes spatial moments, longitudinal mass distribution and breakthrough curves at control planes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-362
Number of pages17
JournalGround Water
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


FundersFunder number
Helmholtz Association


    Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence Based Estimation of Macrodispersivity for Groundwater Transport Applications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this