Simulation of reactive solute transport in the critical zone: a Lagrangian model for transient flow and preferential transport

Sternagel, Alexander; Loritz, Ralf; Klaus, Julian; Berkowitz, Brian; Zehe, Erwin

We present a method to simulate fluid flow with reactive solute transport in structured, partially saturated soils using a Lagrangian perspective. In this context, we extend the scope of the Lagrangian Soil Water and Solute Transport Model (LAST) (Sternagel et al., 2019) by implementing vertically variable, non-linear sorption and first-order degradation processes during transport of reactive substances through a partially saturated soil matrix and macropores. For sorption, we develop an explicit mass transfer approach based on Freundlich isotherms because the common method of using a retardation factor is not applicable in the particle-based approach of LAST. The reactive transport method is tested against data of plot- and field-scale irrigation experiments with the herbicides isoproturon and flufenacet at different flow conditions over various periods. Simulations with HYDRUS 1-D serve as an additional benchmark. At the plot scale, both models show equal performance at a matrix-flow-dominated site, but LAST better matches indicators of preferential flow at a macropore-flow-dominated site. Furthermore, LAST successfully simulates the effects of adsorption and degradation on the breakthrough behaviour of flufenacet with preferential leaching and remobilization. The results demonstrate the feasibility of the method to simulate reactive solute transport in a Lagrangian framework and highlight the advantage of the particle-based approach and the structural macropore domain to simulate solute transport as well as to cope with preferential bypassing of topsoil and subsequent re-infiltration into the subsoil matrix.

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Sternagel, Alexander / Loritz, Ralf / Klaus, Julian / et al: Simulation of reactive solute transport in the critical zone: a Lagrangian model for transient flow and preferential transport. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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