Revisiting the cape cod bacteria injection experiment using a stochastic modeling approach

Reed M. Maxwell, Claire Welty, Ronald W. Harvey

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38 Scopus citations


Bromide and resting-cell bacteria tracer tests conducted in a sandy aquifer at the U.S. Geological Survey Cape Cod site in 1987 were reinterpreted using a three-dimensional stochastic approach. Bacteria transport was coupled to colloid filtration theory through functional dependence of local-scale colloid transport parameters upon hydraulic conductivity and seepage velocity in a stochastic advection - dispersion/attachment - detachment model. Geostatistical information on the hydraulic conductivity (K) field that was unavailable at the time of the original test was utilized as input. Using geostatistical parameters, a groundwater flow and particle-tracking model of conservative solute transport was calibrated to the bromide-tracer breakthrough data. An optimization routine was employed over 100 realizations to adjust the mean and variance ofthe natural-logarithm of hydraulic conductivity (InK) field to achieve best fit of a simulated, average bromide breakthrough curve. A stochastic particle-tracking model for the bacteria was run without adjustments to the local-scale colloid transport parameters. Good predictions of mean bacteria breakthrough were achieved using several approaches for modeling components of the system. Simulations incorporating the recent Tufenkji and Elimelech (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2004, 38, 529-536) correlation equation for estimating single collector efficiency were compared to those using the older Rajagopalan and Tien (AIChE J. 1976, 22, 523-533) model. Both appeared to work equally well at predicting mean bacteria breakthrough using a constant mean bacteria diameter for this set of field conditions. Simulations using a distribution of bacterial cell diameters available from original field notes yielded a slight improvement in the model and data agreement compared to simulations using an average bacterial diameter. The stochastic approach based on estimates of local-scale parameters for the bacteria-transport process reasonably captured the mean bacteria transport behavior and calculated an envelope of uncertainty that bracketed the observations in most simulation cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5548-5558
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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