Toward enhanced remediation methods using chaotic advection

Michael G Trefry, Guy Metcalfe, Daniel Robert Lester, Alison Ord, Klaus Regenauer-Lieb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOtherpeer-review


Many remediation activities in the terrestrial subsurface involve the need to recover/emplace distributions of scalar quantities (e.g. dissolved phase concentration and heat) from/in volumes of saturated porous media. These scalars can be targeted by pump-and-treat technologies, where target fluids are abstracted from the porous medium, or by amendment technologies, were specific chemicals or substrates are injected into the porous medium in order to promote beneficial transformations of water quality or mineralogy. Application examples include in situ leaching for precious metals, recovery of dissolved contaminant plumes, or harvesting of heat energy from geothermal reservoirs. While conventional pumping methods work reasonably well, costs associated with maintaining pumping schedules are high and improvements in efficiency would be welcome. In this paper we discuss how transient switching of the pressure at different wells can intimately control subsurface flow, generating a range of "programmed" flows with various beneficial characteristics. Some programs produce chaotic mixing flows which deliver rapid transport, whilst others create encapsulating flows which can confine pollutants for in situ treatment. In a simplified model of an aquifer subject to balanced injection and extraction pumping, chaotic flow topologies have been predicted theoretically and verified experimentally using Hele-Shaw cells. Mixing enhancement due to chaotic advection and kinematic confinement of aquifer volumes are key features of the chaotic dynamics. Understanding these phenomena may form the basis for new efficient technologies for groundwater remediation or amendment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGQ10: Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World
PublisherIAHS Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9781907161162
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventConference on Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World (GQ) 2010 - Zurich, Switzerland
Duration: 13 Jun 201018 Jun 2010
Conference number: 7th


ConferenceConference on Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World (GQ) 2010
Abbreviated titleGQ 2010
Internet address


  • Chaotic advection
  • Confinement
  • Contamination
  • Flow
  • Mixing
  • Pumping

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