The second Las Cruces trench experiment: Experimental results and two-dimensional flow predictions

TitleThe second Las Cruces trench experiment: Experimental results and two-dimensional flow predictions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1991
AuthorsHills R.G, Wierenga P.J, Hudson D.B, Kirkland M.R
JournalWater Resources Research
Date Published1991
Accession NumberJRN00145
Call Number00460
Keywordsarticle, articles, journal, journals, model, contaminant transport, model, water flow, trench experiment, water flow, model

As part of a comprehensive field study designed to proved data to test stochastic and deterministic models of water flow and contaminant transport in the vadose zone, several trench experiments were performed int eh semiarid region of southern New Mexico. The first trench experiment is discussed by Wierenga et al. (this issue). During the second trench experiment, a 1.2 m wide by 12 m long area on the north side of and parallel to a 26.4 m long by 4.8 m wide by 6 m deep trench was irrigated with water containing tracers using a carefully controlled drip irrigation system. The irrigated areas was heavily instrumented with tensiometers and neutron probe access tubes to monitor water movement, and with suction samplers to monitor solute transport. Water containing tritium and bromide was applied during the first 11.5 days of the study. Thereafter, water was applied without tracers for and additional 64 days. Both water movement and tracer movement were monitored in the subsoil during infiltrations and redistribution. The experimental results indicate that water and bromide moved fairly uniformly during infiltration and the bromide moved ahead of the tritium due to anion exclusion during redistribution. Comparisons between measurements and predictions made with a two-dimensional model show qualitative agreement for two of the three water content measurement planes. Model predictions of tritium and bromide transport were not as satisfactory. Measurements of both tritium and bromide show localized areas of high relative concentrations and a large downward motion of bromide relative to tritium during redistribution. While the simple deterministic model does show larger downward motions for bromide than for tritium during redistribution, it does no predict the high concentrations of solute observed during infiltration, nor can it predict the heterogeneous behavior observed for tritium during infiltration and for bromide during redistribution.