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J Contam Hydrol. 2006 Feb 1;83(1-2):89-121. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Modeling porosity reductions caused by mineral fouling in continuous-wall permeable reactive barriers.

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  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39217, USA.


A study was conducted to assess key factors to include when modeling porosity reductions caused by mineral fouling in permeable reactive barriers (PRBs) containing granular zero valent iron. The public domain codes MODFLOW and RT3D were used and a geochemical algorithm was developed for RT3D to simulate geochemical reactions occurring in PRBs. Results of simulations conducted with the model show that the largest porosity reductions occur between the entrance and mid-plane of the PRB as a result of precipitation of carbonate minerals and that smaller porosity reductions occur between the mid-plane and exit face due to precipitation of ferrous hydroxide. These findings are consistent with field and laboratory observations, as well as modeling predictions made by others. Parametric studies were conducted to identify the most important variables to include in a model evaluating porosity reduction. These studies showed that three minerals (CaCO3, FeCO3, and Fe(OH)2 (am)) account for more than 99% of the porosity reductions that were predicted. The porosity reduction is sensitive to influent concentrations of HCO3-, Ca2+, CO3(2-), and dissolved oxygen, the anaerobic iron corrosion rate, and the rates of CaCO3 and FeCO3 formation. The predictions also show that porosity reductions in PRBs can be spatially variable and mineral forming ions penetrate deeper into the PRB as a result of flow heterogeneities, which reflects the balance between the rate of mass transport and geochemical reaction rates. Level of aquifer heterogeneity and the contrast in hydraulic conductivity between the aquifer and PRB are the most important hydraulic variables affecting porosity reduction. Spatial continuity of aquifer hydraulic conductivity is less significant.

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