The role of coupled physical and geochemical heterogeneities in hydro-geochemical transport is investigated by simulating three-dimensional transport in a heterogeneous system with kinetic mineral reactions. Ensembles of 100 physically heterogeneous realizations were simulated for three geochemical conditions: 1) spatially homogeneous reactive mineral surface area, 2) reactive surface area positively correlated to hydraulic heterogeneity, and 3) reactive surface area negatively correlated to hydraulic heterogeneity. Groundwater chemistry and the corresponding effective reaction rates were calculated at three transverse planes to quantify differences in plume evolution due to heterogeneity in mineral reaction rates and solute residence time (τ). The model is based on a hypothetical CO2 intrusion into groundwater from a carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) operation where CO2 dissolution and formation of carbonic acid created geochemical dis-equilibrium between fluids and the mineral galena that resulted in increased aqueous lead (Pb2 +) concentrations. Calcite dissolution buffered the pH change and created conditions of galena oversaturation, which then reduced lead concentrations along the flow path. Near the leak kinetic geochemical reactions control the release of solutes into the fluid, but further along the flow path mineral solubility controls solute concentrations. Simulation results demonstrate the impact of heterogeneous distribution of geochemical reactive surface area in coordination with physical heterogeneity on the effective reaction rate (Krxn,eff) and Pb2 + concentrations within the plume. Dissimilarities between ensemble Pb2 + concentration and Krxn,eff are attributed to how geochemical heterogeneity affects the time (τeq) and therefore advection distance (Leq) required for the system to re-establish geochemical equilibrium. Only after geochemical equilibrium is re-established, Krxn,eff and Pb 2 + concentrations are the same for all three geochemical conditions. Correlation between reactive surface area and hydraulic conductivity, either positive or negative, results in variation in τeq and L eq.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Environmental Chemistry
- Effective reaction rate
- Hydro-geochemical transport
- Physical and geochemical heterogeneities