RESPONSE project: Reactive transport of point source contamination in soils and groundwater

Bertrand Leterme, Lana Geukens, Diederik Jacques, Vanessa M.A. Heyvaert, Marijke Huysmans, Cas Neyens, Erik Smolders, Dirk Springael, Bas van Wesemael, Jan Walstra

Research outputpeer-review


The RESPONSE project aims at improving the use of coupled reactive transport models to simulate the fate of inorganic and organic contaminants within environments, characterised by a fluctuating shallow groundwater table – inducing strong hydraulic, physico-chemical and redox gradients. Three case studies were selected based on the presence of inorganic and/or organic contamination. Two sites are cemeteries where groundwater pollution by herbicides (2,6-dichlorobenzamide (BAM) – a persistent metabolite of herbicide dichlobenil) was detected. Top soil and groundwater samples were collected and the BAM degradation and mineralization potential of soil microbiota is tested in the laboratory. It is hypothesized that BAM degradation is strongly affected by DOC quality (measured through specific UV absorbance) and quantity. RESPONSE will investigate whether predictions of dichlobenil and BAM migration in soils and groundwater can be improved by taking into account DOC quality/quantity.The third site is a former municipal landfill, where redox zonation and contamination by As is observed. This site is primarily used to study the level of hydrogeological and geochemical detail needed to predict the migration of pollutants in a satisfactory way. This hypothesis is tested by comparing predictions using site specific measured parameters (soil and subsoil hydraulic parameters, in-situ groundwater flow characterization, etc.) with predictions using parameters inferred from existing hydrological/ geochemical data available in data bases. Moreover, an integrated tool is developed to simulate water flow and reactive solute transport in the subsurface focusing on the water table interface. This is achieved by loosely coupling the existing HYDRUS, MODFLOW, MT3D-USGS and PHREEQC codes at the lowest level and adding functionalities for the transfer of solute concentrations. The HYDRUS package for MODFLOW (Seo et al., 2007) has been updated and PHREEQC functionalities are coupled to both the unsaturated zone (based on HPx software; Jacques et al., 2018) and the saturated zone.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Use and Management of Soil, Sediment and Water Resources
Subtitle of host publication15th International Conference | 20–24 May 2019 | Antwerp, Belgium
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 20 May 2019
EventSustainable Use and Management of Soil, Sediment and Water Resources: 15th International Conference - The Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp in Belgium (FMCCA), Antwerp
Duration: 20 May 201924 May 2019


ConferenceSustainable Use and Management of Soil, Sediment and Water Resources
Abbreviated titleAquaConSoil 2019
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