A multiple-pore-region concept to modeling mass transfer in subsurface media

J. P. Gwo, P. M. Jardine, G. V. Wilson, G. T. Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Recent studies in soil science literature have strongly indicated the need to incorporate pore structures in near-surface mass transport modeling. There is increasing evidence suggesting that pore structures, such as fractures and macropores, facilitate the transport of water and solutes along a preferential flow path while water and solutes are moved into micropores and rock matrices concurrently. This study presents a conceptual model, a multiple-pore-region (or multi-region) concept, to account for pore structures as well as the resultant widely distributed pore water velocities in macroporous media. Pore regions can either be physically identified as discrete features, such as fractures and rock matrices, or be experimentally determined by separation of water retention curves according to pore classification schemes. A multi-region mechanism is proposed to account for the effect of local-scale and field-scale heterogeneities on mass transport under variably saturated conditions. Two numerical codes for subsurface fluid flow and solute transport have been developed with the multi-region concept, in which a firstorder mass exchange model is adopted to simulate the redistribution of pressure heads and solute concentrations among pore regions. The computer codes are used to demonstrate the applicability of the concept to fractured porous media, and to test a three-pore-region hypothesis using laboratory soil column tracer injection data. Based upon the parameters obtained from fitting multi-region and mobile-immobile models to these data, we successfully demonstrated that the former model has the advantage of maintaining consistent conceptual models over the latter under variably saturated conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-237
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jan 1995


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