The vertical transport of petroleum hydrocarbons from a surface spill through an unsaturated subsurface system is of major concern in assessing the vulnerability of groundwater contamination. A realistic representation on fate and transport of volatile organic compounds at different periods after spill is quite challenging due to the variation in the source behaviour at the surface of spill as well as the variation in the hydrodynamic parameters and the associated inter-phase partitioning coefficients within the subsurface. In the present study, a one dimensional numerical model is developed to simulate the transport of benzene in an unsaturated subsurface system considering the effect of volatilization, dissolution, adsorption and microbial degradation of benzene for (i) constant continuous source, (ii) continuous decaying source, and (iii) residual source. The numerical results suggest that volatilization is the important sink for contaminant removal considering the soil air migration within the unsaturated zone. It is also observed that the coupled effect of dissolution and volatilization is important for the decaying source at the surface immediately after the spill, whereas rate-limited dissolution from residually entrapped source is responsible for the extended contamination towards later period.
Volume 130, 2021
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