Finite element modeling of slug tests in an aquifer with stratigraphical and structural heterogeneities Academic Article uri icon


  • Slug interference tests using an array of multilevel active and monitoring wells permit enhanced aquifer characterization. Analyses of these field test data rely on numerical inverse models. In order to provide synthetic data sets and to have a better understanding of the flow mechanisms, we used a three-dimensional finite element analysis (FEHM) to explore the effects of idealized, stratigraphical (strata) and structural (faults) heterogeneities with low permeability values on the transient head field that is associated with slug tests in an aquifer. Firstly, we tested our model on homogeneous aquifers and the effectiveness of our modeling strategies have been validated via the excellent agreement of our modeling results with those of the semi-analytical model of Liu & Butler (1995). In our heterogeneity investigations, we embedded vertical and horizontal zones of lower permeability into a homogenous, isotropic, and confined aquifer to represent low-permeability faults and strata respectively. A slugged interval is located at the center of the aquifer. Effects of strata thickness and permeability contrast as well as other effects associated with the offset of low-permeability strata were explored. In particular, modeling results are represented by contour maps of peak travel time and maximum head perturbation of generated hydraulic pulses. Furthermore, various phenomena, such as real-time matrix diffusion, intermittent matrix-fracture interactions, and faster pulse arrival through a longer flow trajectory, are concretely presented in the snapshots of head perturbations in the aquifer. Our finite element modeling provides useful information for understanding the behaviors of diffusive pressure propagation in an aquifer with stratigraphical and/or structural heterogeneities, and for designing hydraulic tomography to enhance aquifer characterization. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd (a Blackwell Publishing Company).

author list (cited authors)

  • CHENG, J., & EVERETT, M. E.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • February 2009