Are We Describing Dispersion Correctly? Some Concerns

  • I. Neretnieks
Part of the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences book series (CISM, volume 364)


There are many observations that the dispersion length increases with the observation distance in fractured rocks. This is contrary to the common assumption on which the advection-dispersion equation is based and casts doubt on its usefulness in extrapolation to longer distances. There are several mechanisms which can cause the observed effect. Three such mechanisms are discussed. In systems with strong channeling i.e. where the flow paths are essentially independent until their waters are mixed in the collection well the dispersion of the collected waters from the different paths will depend on the velocity distribution along the path ways. The “dispersion length” evaluated for this system will be proportional to the distance. Another mechanisms which will have similar effects is the matrix diffusion in a dual porosity system. The tracer diffuses in and out of the stagnant waters in the rock matrix. The larger contact surface between the flowing water and the rock in the longer paths will increase the interaction and cause “dispersion” in addition to the hydrodynamic dispersion. A third cause can be that in a self similar system the dispersion length also will be self similar and be a constant fraction of the scale of observation. There are observations indicating that there are self similar structures in fractured rocks.


Breakthrough Curve Fracture Rock Tracer Test Residence Time Distribution Matrix Diffusion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Matheron G., and de Marsily G. Is transport in porous media always diffusive? A counterexample, Water Resources Res. 6, p 90, 1980.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Neretnieks I. A note on fracture flow mechanisms in the ground, Water Resources Res. 19, p. 364–370, 1983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Neretnieks I. Solute Transport in Fractured Rock -Applications to Radioactive Waste Repositories. Chapter 3. Ed Bear J., de Marsily G., Tsang C-F., Academic Press p 39–127, 1993.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gelhar L.W. Stochastic Subsurface Hydrology, Prentice Hall, 1993.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chesnut D., Dispersion in heterogeneous permeable media. Paper presented at the International High Level Waste Management Conference, Las Vegas, May 22–26, Proceedings, 1993.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Schweich D. Transport of linearly reactive solutes in porous media. Basic models and concepts. In “ Migration and fate of pollutants in soils and subsoils.” Ed. Petruzzelli D. and Helfferich F.G., NATO ASI series, Vol G 32, p 221–245, Springer Verlag, 1993.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    KBS-3, Final storage of spent nuclear fuel. Report by Swedish Nuclear Fuel Supply Co, SKBF, Stockholm, Sweden, May 1983.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Neretnieks
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations