Uncertainty in Unsaturated Zone Pollutant Transport

by Mitchell J. Small, Carnegie-Mellon Univ, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,
John R. Mular, Carnegie-Mellon Univ, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Environmental Engineering


The portion of a pollutant spill transported to an underlying aquifer is uncertain due to the stochastic nature of precipitation and uncertainty in the geochemical properties of the contaminant in the soil. Precluding an ability for long-term weather forecasts, the meteorological uncertainty is largely irreducible. However, geochemical uncertainty may be reduced through site sampling and characterization; though this may be expensive. A methodology is developed for characterizing the overall uncertainty in pollutant washout from the unsaturated zone. Results are presented in terms of derived probability distribution functions which distinguish between reducible and irreducible sources of variability. A number of results are applicable to related problems, such as land farming of hazardous wastes. (Author abstract. )

Subject Headings: Uncertainty principles | Pollutants | Soil properties | Hazardous materials spills | Soil pollution | Water pollution | Water supply systems | Probability

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