"The quantitative understanding of contaminant transport is a fundamental requirement for the protection and management of groundwater resources and for the implementation of natural attenuation and/or engineered remediation technologies. Dilution and mixing processes play a pivotal role for solute transport in porous aquifer systems. In fact, the limited extent of mixing usually controls reactive transport and natural attenuation of contaminant plumes. Laboratory and field investigations have demonstrated the presence of narrow bioactive zones at the fringes of organic contaminant plumes, where reaction partners (i.e. different substrates) are brought into contact by mixing processes. Therefore, the correct quantification of mixing is of utmost importance for an accurate description of reactive transport of contaminants in groundwater. The objective of the present DILREACT project is to deepen and improve the current understanding of mixing and mixing-controlled reactions in the subsurface. The proposed approach is based on a tight coupling between high-resolution data at the laboratory and field scales and mathematical modelling including both the development of theoretical concepts and the use of numerical codes to simulate conservative and reactive transport. Characteristics of dilution and mixing processes such as the recently observed compound-dependency in the transverse component (Chiogna et al., 2010) will be investigated in detail. Appropriate measures able to capture these effects as well as the influence of flow focusing on mixing intensity in complex heterogeneous porous media will be proposed and validated against high-resolution experimental observations. Numerical tools accurately describing mixing processes and their coupling with biogeochemical reactions will be developed and tested in a series of remediation scenarios and in an applied reactive transport modelling study at an aquifer contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons."
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