Modeling depth-variant and domain-specific sorption and biodegradation in dual-permeability media

Chittaranjan Ray, Tomas Vogel, Jaromir Dusek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A dual-permeability model (S_1D_DUAL) was developed to simulate the transport of land-applied pesticides in macroporous media. In this model, one flow domain was represented by the bulk matrix and the other by the preferential flow domain (PFD) where water and chemicals move at faster rates. The model assumed the validity of Darcian flow and the advective-dispersive solute transport in each of the two domains with inter-domain transfer of water and solutes due to pressure and concentration gradients. It was conceptualized that sorption and biodegradation rates vary with soil depth as well as in each of the two flow domains. In addition to equilibrium sorption, kinetic sorption was simulated in the PFD. Simulations were conducted to evaluate the combined effects of preferential flow, depth- and domain-variant sorption, and degradation on leaching of two pesticides: one with strong sorption potential (trifluralin) and the other with weak sorption potential (atrazine). Simulation results for a test case showed that water flux in the PFD was three times more than in the matrix for selected storm events. When equilibrium sorption was considered, the simulated profile of trifluralin in each domain was similar; however, the atrazine profile was deeper in the PFD than in the bulk matrix under episodic storm events. With an assumption of negligible sorption in the PFD, both the atrazine and the trifluralin profiles moved twice deeper into the PFD. The simulated concentrations of the chemicals were several orders higher in the PFD than in the matrix, even at deeper depths. The volume fraction of the macropores and the sorption and biodegradation properties of the chemicals could also affect the amount of pesticides leaving the root zone. For an intense storm event, slow sorption reaction rates in the PFD produced higher breakthrough concentrations of atrazine at the bottom of the simulated soil profile, thus posing the risk for breakthrough of chemicals from the root zone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-87
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation
  • Depth variant
  • Domain specific
  • Dual permeability
  • Macropore
  • Models
  • Preferential flow
  • Sorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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