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OCR for page 109
Groundwater Flow Modeling
Study of the Love Canal Area,
New York
8
INTRODUCTION
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified a need
to assess the groundwater hydrology of the Love Canal area,
Niagara Falls, New York. As part of this assessment, ground
water flow models were used to aid in data reduction and
analysis and to attempt prediction of groundwater movement
and contaminant migration. The modeling effort was started
on August 20, 1980, and completed December 1, 1980.
The objectives were to (1) devise a conceptual framework,
(2) assist in data collection, (3) design and analyze aquifer tests,
(4) predict system behavior, and (5) assess uncertainty. The
technical approach involved the use of groundwater flow models,
which were used to help interpret and predict the behavior of
groundwater flow and convective transport at Love Canal. Since
hydrodynamic dispersion is neglected, arrival times may be
slightly underestimated.
This chapter summarizes some of the work performed during
109
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
GeoTrans, Inc.
AB STRACT
Increasing awareness of the problems presented by hazardous waste sites is leading toward an increased
interest in, and application of, groundwater models. During the fall of 1980, a groundwater modeling study
was conducted at the Love Canal area, Niagara Falls, New York. Flow models were used to aid in data
reduction and analysis and to attempt prediction of groundwater movement. Both slug tests and aquifer tests
were analyzed. The conceptual framework for the hydrogeologic units underlying Love Canal consists of a
shallow watertable system of silts and fine sands and a deeper confined system in the Lockport Dolomite.
The intervening confining layers consist of lacustrine and glacial clays. Modeling in the dolomite focused on
characterizing the aquifer and assessing the potential for its contamination. Best judgment indicates that for
the Lockport to be contaminated, the confining bed would have to be breached. Analysis of remedial action
for the Lockport Dolomite indicates that three interceptor wells at the south end of the canal, pumped at
only 32.3 mayday, would reverse the flow of groundwater to the river and provide an adequate halt to migration
of potential contaminants to the river.
this study. Results are presented for the aquifer test analysis
and for modeling the Lockport Dolomite aquifer. The shallow
system and remedial action modeling and analysis are pre
sented elsewhere (Mercer et al., 1981; Silka and Mercer, 19827.
BAC KGROU N D
The Love Canal site is located on the east side of Niagara Falls,
New York. The landfill at Love Canal was operated for nearly
30 yr and occupied a surface area of approximately 16 acres
with the south end 400 m from the upper Niagara River near
Cayuga Island. The canal varies from about 3 to 11 m in depth
with the original soil cover varying from 0 to 1.8 m in thickness
(Leonard et al., 1977~.
Figure 8.1 shows the typical strata at the Love Canal site.
The soil layers are underlain by glacial till, which in turn is
underlain by bedrock consisting of the Lockport Dolomite. In
general terms, the groundwater hydrology includes (1) a shal
OCR for page 109
110
DEPTH
1.82.5'
(0.60.8 m)
4.05.5'
(1.21.7 m)
7.58.5'
(2.3 2.6 m)
105 11.5'
(3.2 3.5 m/
19.0 27.0'
(5.88.2 m;
34.042.0'
(10.412.8 m)
DESCRIPTION
Land Surface
Clayey Silt Fill
Silty Sand
Soft Silty Clay
Lockport Dolomite
(Ranges in thickness from
approximately 100 to 150 feet/
30 to 46 meters)
FIGURE 8.1 Typical strata in Love Canal landfill area (modified from
ConestogaRovers & Associates, 1978).
low system that is seasonally saturated and consists of the silt
fill and silty sand and is underlain by (2) beds of confining
material composed of clay and till that overlies (3) the Lockport
Dolomite, which is underlain by the relatively impermeable
(4) Rochester Shale.
FIGURE 8.2 Generalized potentiometric
surfaces for the Lockport Dolomite.
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
Lockport Dolomite
The Lockport Dolomite is overlain by leaky confining beds and
underlain by the relatively impermeable Rochester Shale
Johnston, 1964) and is fairly continuous in the Niagara Falls
area. Both artesian and watertable conditions occur in this
fractured system, with the upper 3 to 4.6 m being the most
permeable. Hydrogeologically, the dolomite in the Niagara
Falls area probably is bounded on the south by the upper
Niagara River (see Figure 8.2~. It is bounded toward the west
by the lower Niagara River gorge. The dolomite thins north
ward, where it is bounded by its outcrops in the Niagara es
carpment.
Under natural conditions, recharge occurs at the contact with
the upper Niagara River near the falls and at an elevation high
that is just south of the Niagara escarpment. Discharge occurs
as seepage faces and springs at the lower Niagara River, along
the Niagara escarpment, and along parts of the upper Niagara
River away from the falls.
A generalized potentiometric map developed from historic
records for the Lockport Dolomite Johnston, 1964) is shown
in Figure 8.2. The contours are highly idealized because the
data were either (1) absent, (2) representative of several layers
within the dolomite, or (3) collected over a twoyear span dur
ing 19611962.
A well hydrograph in the area indicates that flow is quasi
steady state. "Quasi" is used because seasonal variations of
about +0.6 m are believed to be imposed on the steadystate
condition in the upper part of the dolomite. Furthermore, since
this study occurred in the fall, it is expected that the water
levels represent seasonal lows.
N
_
SEA LEVEL
DATUM
N I AGARA ESCARPMENT ~
in
AMER~ 4 ~ SITE
Be< STUDY AREA
~ J 13 .' LOVE CANAL
OCR for page 109
Groundwater Flow Modeling Study
Shallow System
The shallow system at Love Canal is located in the upper units
of silty sand and silt fill. It is probably bounded toward the
north and west by creeks and toward the south by the Little
Niagara River. Before remedial actions were taken, ground
water flow was probably toward the surface drainage, with the
overall flow toward the south and the upper Niagara River.
The soils in this area consist of the CanadaiguaRaynham
Rhinebeck association characterized by somewhat poorly drained
to very poorly drained soils having a dominantly medium to
finetexture subsoil (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 19721.
These soils are silty loam to silty clay loam (ML to CL in the
Unified Soil Classification). Previous work in the area has typ
ified the soils as shown in Figure 8.1 (ConestogaRovers &
Associates, 1978~. Underlying the lacustrine sediments are gla
cial tills.
The shallow system can be summarized as follows:
1. Silty sand and silt fill; approximately 3.7 m thick; hy
draulic conductivity is greater than or equal to 10 m/sec
(Hart, 1978~.
2. Hard clay, transition clay, soft clay; 3.4 m thick; hydraulic
conductivity is 10l° to 10il m/see (Leonard et al., 1977~.
3. Glacial till; 4.6 m thick; hydraulic conductivity is probably
similar to that of clays (Glaubinger et al., 1979~.
In addition to these units, stormsewer and sanitarysewer
excavations as well as swales may act as conduits. Ebert (1979)
describes the swales as old drainage ways up to 3 m deep and
12 m wide in their original state. Many of these old drainage
ways have been filled with miscellaneous material.
AQUIFER TESTING ANALYSIS
Aquifer testing was designed, and subsequently modified, to
characterize certain aspects of the groundwater system at the
Love Canal site. These included the following:
1. Determination of the horizontal hydraulic conductivity
and storage coefficient of unconsolidated glacial units and the
Lockport Dolomite;
2. Determination of the variation of hydraulic conductivity
with depth in the dolomite;
3. Determination of the hydraulic connection between the
more permeable upper zones of the shallow system and the
dolomite, that is, the vertical component of hydraulic conduc
tivity in the till and tight lacustrine sediments; and
4. Determination of the interconnection (vertical hydraulic
conductivity) of permeable layers in the Lockport Dolomite.
The tests used at the site included constantpressure tests
and constantdischarge tests in the Lockport Dolomite and a
fallinghead test in the overburden and till units. Except for
the constantdischarge test, the results of the testing are dif
ficult to quantify. Therefore, only the constantdischarge test
in the dolomite is described here and is presented for illustra
tive purposes.
The basic solution used for the constantdischarge pumping
111
test is the Theis (1935) solution
4rrTJ: u (8.1)
where s is the drawdown (L); r is the distance from pumped
well to observation well (L>; Q is the discharge rate (Loft); t is
the time after start of pumping; T is the transmissivity (L2lt);
and S is the storage coefficient (dimensionless).
Although the longterm pumping test in the dolomite at the
site was designed to run at a constantdischarge rate, the actual
pumping rate declined during the test. An approximate solution
for these conditions can be obtained by using the principle of
superposition in conjunction with the basic solution. The pro
cedure involves representing the variable pumping rate by a
series of pumping periods having constant rates. The approx
imate solution is then given by
1 no
s =—~ (Qj—Q1) W(u) (8.2)
where j is the particular pumping period, m is the total number
of pumping periods, W(u) is the exponential integral in Eq.
cedure involves representing the variable pumping rate by a
cedure is further detailed by Earlougher (1977~.
Eqs. (8.1) and (8.2) provide forward solutions to the ground
water response. In this field test the inverse solution is re
quired; that is, from observed waterlevel changes, the hy
drologic parameters T and S need to be determined. In order
to solve Eq. (8.2), a leastsquares minimization technique is
used. That is, to find T and S.
n
~ [sO(ri, ti) —sC(ri, ti>]2 (8. 3)
i = 1
is minimized, where sO is the observed drawdown, sc is the
calculated drawdown, i refers to a particular observation, and
n is the total number of observations.
Data were used from 12 observation wells and the pumping
well. Measurements were continued at three observation wells
for 2 h after the pump was shut down. With all of these data,
there are several alternative ways to partition them for analysis.
Two obvious ways are (1) match all the observations using one
transmissivity value and one storage coefficient value (Case A),
and (2) match the data for each well independently, calculating
a separate T and S for each well (Case B). Both methods were
used in this analysis. Comparing the results of both cases pro
vides a measure of validity in the analysis.
The results of matching the data are presented in Table 8.1.
Using all available data and matching all the wells with one T
and S led to values of 0.0014 m2/sec and 1.49 x 1O4, re
spectively. The mean deviation between observed values and
calculated values using the above T and S was 0.12 m. Fitting
the individual well data led to better matches of the data. For
this case the transmissivity values were between 0.001 and
0.0035 m2/sec and the storage coefficient values were between
0.343 x 1O4 and 3.12 x 1O4. As noted, the matches on
individual wells were better mean deviations for each well
were between 0.010 and 0.064 m.
Other results from aquifer testing are not presented but may
be found in Mercer et al. (19817. The results of the aquifer
OCR for page 109
112
TABLE 8.1 Summary of Results of Pumping and Recovery Test Analysis
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
Matching Group Well T (m/sec) S x 1O4 Mean Deviation, m
Case A (all wells together) 0.0014 1.490 0.119
Case B (individual wells) 38 0.0035 2.370 0.010
44 0.0031 1.650 0.014
48 0.0025 0.343 0.019
50 0.0018 0.483 0.032
56 0.0019 0.825 0.016
67 0.0017 1.750 0.025
68 0.0010 1.330 0.019
71 0.0019 1.500 0.020
79 0.0016 0.428 0.033
80 0.0014 1.290 0.025
86 0.0017 3.120 0.049
89 0.0010 2.000 0.064
Average 0.0020 1.420
testing partially fulfilled the original test objectives. The fol
lowing conclusions were drawn from the above analysis:
1. The 22h discharge test in the Lockport Dolomite pro
vided an average field transmissivity of 0.0014 m2/sec and stor
age coefficient of 1.5 x 1O4. These values are consistent with
other values determined for the Lockport Dolomite in the
Niagara vicinity.
2. Because many of the observation wells were completed
only about 1 m into the dolomite, and because they responded
quickly to the pumping from a well screened at a deeper level,
the upper permeable zones of the dolomite appear to have
significant vertical permeability.
3. The Lockport Dolomite is heterogeneous but less so than
would normally be anticipated for carbonate aquifers.
4. The packer test results for the dolomite were inconclu
sive. Consequently, the regional observations of lohnston (1964)
regarding the variation of hydraulic conductivity with depth
are still assumed applicable to the site. Examination of the core
description also supports lohnston's contention that the pri
mary waterbearing zones are located in the upper zones of
the Lockport Dolomite.
5. The slug tests in the overburden wells provided an es
timate of the hydraulic conductivity of the lacustrine sediments
and till. Both values are on the order of 3.04 x 10~" m/see
and indicate relatively impermeable material.
6. The shallow material tested at the slug test site was also
relatively impermeable (on the order of 3 x 10"' m/sec).
However, this unit was quite clayey. Because the shallow silty
sandy units are highly variable, this one estimate is probably
not representative of the shallow system at the site.
7. No estimates of storage properties for the overburden
wells could be determined from the slug tests.
LOCKPORT DOLOMITE MODEL
the aquifer thickness. The boundary condition at the bottom
is probably noflow, since below the first 4.6 m parts of the
Lockport Dolomite are relatively impermeable. At the top, the
boundary condition is probably headcontrolled flux repre
senting leakage through the confining beds. A groundwater
flow model that handles these areal flow conditions is that
presented by Trescott et al. (19767. Important assumptions
include the following:
1. Groundwater flow and aquifer parameters in the Lock
port Dolomite are vertically averaged.
2. Q~asisteadystate flow is assumed; that is, although there
are seasonal variations, the system over an extended period of
time does not change hydrologically from the seasonally av
eraged surface. This assumption is based on the few well hy
drographs available in the Niagara Falls area.
3. The aquifer in the Lockport Dolomite is assumed to be
under leaky artesian conditions everywhere.
4. The aquifer transmissivity near the escarpment is as
sumed equal to 4.58 x 1O5 m'/sec. Because of the analysis
of tests at the Love Canal site, and because of the higher aquifer
transmissivity near the river Johnston, 1964), a zone bordering
the upper Niagara River was assumed to have a trans~nissivity
of 4.58 x 104 m2/sec. This value is about one third the value
obtained from the aquifer test analysis yet slightly greater than
previously reported values. This value was selected because
the aquifer test yielded a local value, whereas the lower value
used in the model is more representative of a larger area.
Transmissivity is assumed isotropic but nonhomogeneous.
5. Water moves vertically into or out of the Lockport Do
lomite through the confining layer.
6. The confining bed is assumed to be 7.6 m thick and is
composed of clay and till.
7. The confiningbed hydraulic conductivity is assumed to
be 10~" m/see (Leonard et al., 1977~. Because of the better
drained soils near the Niagara escarpment (U.S. Department
of Agriculture, 1972>, this value was increased in that area to
There are several numerical models that are appropriate for ~ ~^ ~~ ^ ^ ~  ~ ~
simulating flow in the Lockport Dolomite. The approach taken
was to vertically average the flow and aquifer parameters through
;~.25 x 1()Y m/sec. (,ontiningbed hydraulic conductivity is
also isotropic but nonhomogeneous.
8. There are not enough wells reported by Johnston (1964)
OCR for page 109
Groundwater Flow Modeling Study
to construct a potentiometric surface for the silty sand and silt
fill of the shallow system; wells that are in Johnston (1964)
indicate that water levels are approximately 3 m below land
surface; therefore, values determined from a topographic map
were used and 3 m subtracted to produce a shallowsystem
potentiometric surface. In the Love Canal area, this resulted
in heads that were 172 m above mean sea level.
9. The heads in the shallow system represent an average
value and neglect seasonal variations or imposed stresses.
10. The rock underlying the permeable part of the dolomite
is considered impermeable.
11. The scale of the Lockport Dolomite model is regional,
covering most of the area in Figure 8.2.
The area of interest was subdivided into rectangular blocks
composing the finitedifference grid shown in Figure 8.3. The
grid consists of 21 columns and 23 rows. The northern boundary
is considered noflow because it is located along the middle of
a recharge area near the Niagara escarpment, i.e., a ground
water divide. Recharge is through the confining bed. The east
ern boundary is approximated as noflow because it follows a
flow line. The southern boundary is treated as constant head
and corresponds approximately with the upper Niagara River.
The western boundary follows approximately the covered con
duits of the pumpstorage project and is considered constant
head.
Calibration
Calibration of the Lockport Dolomite model consists of match
ing the observed steadystate potentiometric surface in Figure
1
  T. ~  ~
I 173 ZERO TRANSMISSIVITY I
E1 WELL BLOCK t N
~ 1
O lMILES
113
8.2. For steadystate flow conditions, the storage term can be
eliminated during model calibration. Also, leakage through the
confining bed is considered to be under steadystate conditions.
The computed potentiometric surface is shown in Figure 8.4.
As may be seen, the match is good on a regional scale, with
the hydraulic gradient in the Love Canal area being toward
the south and southwest. In terms of spatial distribution, leak
age into the Lockport occurred near the topographic high in
the northern part of the study area. Leakage out occurred
toward the escarpment and at lower elevations toward the up
per Niagara River. In the Love Canal area, leakage was gen
erally into the Lockport Dolomite. Thus, in the Love Canal
area, the leakage is downward (annually averaged), using the
value of 172 m for the head in the shallow system at the Love
Canal site. The downward flow in the blocks representing the
canal area, however, is very low, with rates ranging from 0.14
to 0.07 mm/yr. The head difference between the dolomite and
shallow system is small, especially near the south end of the
canal, and, as will be discussed later, the direction of leakage
can be easily reversed. As for constanthead nodes, flow was
into the dolomite at the pumpstorage reservoir and, in general,
was out through the western boundary. For the southern
boundary, the upper Niagara River was gaining from the do
lomite near Love Canal and east; toward the west and near the
pumpstorage intake, the upper Niagara River was generally
losing to the dolomite.
Figure 8.5 shows a comparison of the hydraulic head com
puted from the steadystate match with the measured values,
that is, in just the Love Canal area (section AA' on Figure
8.4~. Even on a local scale, this match is good, with the com
FIGURE 8.3 Finitedifference grid for the
Lockport Dolomite model.
OCR for page 109
114
FIGURE 8.4 Computed potentiometric sur
face for the Lockport Dolomite.
GEOTRANS, INC. N
COMPUTED STEADY STATE
POTENT IOMETRIC
SURFACE IN LOCKPORT
DOLOMITE; FEET
ABOVE MSL; CONTOUR
INTERVAL = 10 FEET
111t'1 ~
O 1 mile
puted values being slightly lower than the observed. This dif
ference may be the result of the head used in the shallow system
as well as the constanthead value of 172 m that was used for
the upper Niagara River near Love Canal. The observed profile
near the river in Figure 8.5 is dashed, indicating that limited
data were available there. This also indicates our uncertainty
in using 172 m as the constanthead value.
Sensitivity Analysis
A detailed sensitivity analysis was performed on the Lockport
Dolomite model. The following were considered: (1) the con
dition at the western boundary, (2) aquifer transmissivity, (3)
confiningbed hydraulic conductivity, (4) river stage at the
southern boundary, and (5) water level in the shallow system.
3 n 
72.5  .
J
r
=< 172.0 .
in
171 .S .
171.0  _
_56
6
O
56

J 566
>
At 565
tic
564
563
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
LOVE CANAL  LOCKPORT DOLOMITE
LEGEND
to RUN ONE
· MEASURED
1 1 1
o.O 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0 7 0.8 o.9 1.0
SOUTH  NORTH tM! LES FROM RIVER)
~T~ ~—OTT
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
K I LOMETERS FROM R I VER
1.2 1.4 1 6
FIGURE 8.5 Magnification of mile O to 1.0 (O to 1.6 km) along section
AA'.
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
Pumped Storage
Reservoi r
B 1 oc ks
A
. ~ ~ LOVE CANAL
: ~
A'
Details are presented in Mercer et al. (1981~; only the results
are presented in Table 8.2.
Predictions Assuming Remedial Action
Under natural conditions, flow in the Lockport Dolomite ap
pears to be at steady state. If remedial action for the dolomite
is deemed necessary at some time in the future, the flow field
will undoubtedly be disrupted. This will cause transient flow
in the dolomite, which can also be simulated.
The steadystate model described in the previous section
was modified by varying values for the confiningbed specific
storage and the aquifer storage coefficient. For the storage
coefficient, a value of 1.5 x 1O4 was used by Mercer et al.
(1981) as determined from aquifer test analysis. A value of 2.6
x 103/m for plastic to stiff clay was estimated for the specific
storage of the confining bed (Domenico, 19721. The computed
steadystate hydraulichead distribution in Figure 8.4 was used
as the initial condition in the transient model.
If remedial action is necessary for the Lockport Dolomite,
installation of interceptor wells is a likely alternative to be
considered. To evaluate the electiveness of this remedial op
tion, interceptor wells were incorporated into the Lockport
Dolomite model at the south end of Love Canal. Three wells
were placed at the southwest, southcentral, and southeast ends
of the canal, since the flow gradient in the Lockport Dolomite
is toward the south and southwest. Wells in these locations
should intercept any solute that enters the dolomite beneath
the canal.
The pumping rates of the three wells were set at 7.6 L/min
each. This amounts to a total withdrawal of 32.3 m3/day.
The transient simulation lasted only 6.7 days, after which
time the hydraulic heads in the dolomite came to a new steady
state. These low pumpages are sufficient to cause a reversal in
the hydraulichead gradient. That is, the flow is no longer
toward the upper Niagara River, which means the wells would
OCR for page 109
Groundwater Flow Modeling Study
TABLE 8.2 Summary of Sensitivity Runs for Dolomite
Run Description Effect
115
1 Lockport Dolomite steady state using constanthead boundary toward the "Best" comparison with observed data
west and best estimate of parameters
2 Same as run 1 except with impermeable boundary toward the west Minor changes in heads at Love Canal site
3 Same as run 1 with aquifer trans~nissivity increased by 50% Slight increase in heads at Love Canal site
4 Same as run 1 with aquifer transmissivity decreased by 50% Slight decrease in heads at Love Canal site
5 Same as run 1 with confiningbed hydraulic conductivity increased by 50% Slight decrease in heads at Love Canal site
6 Same as run 1 with confiningbed hydraulic conductivity decreased by 50% Slight increase in heads at Love Canal site
7 Same as run 1 with river stage increased by 0.3 m About 1ft decrease in heads at Love Canal site
8 Saline as run 1 with river stage decreased by 0.3 m About 1ft decrease in heads at Love Canal site
9 Same as run 1 with heads in the shallow system in the Love Canal area Gradients through the confining bed were reversed;
lowered by 0.3 m flow was out of the dolomite
10 Same as run 1 with confiningbed hydraulic conductivity increased to that Created groundwater mound in the dolomite
of the dolomite in the grid block representing the south end of Love Canal
a well radius of 7.6 cm) would be approximately 0.82 m, so
that the assumptions of confined, artesian conditions in the
dolomite are still valid.
This new steadystate solution is dependent on the assump
tion of a constanthead boundary at the upper Niagara River.
The hydraulic connection of the river and the Lockport Do
lomite is uncertain. If the connection is present to a lesser
degree than assumed for the model, then the gradient would
still be reversed by this pumpage; however, steady state may
not be reached so quickly.
Contamination Travel Times and Uncertainty Analysis
If a contaminant is assumed to have entered the Lockport
Dolomite, the travel time for the contaminant to reach the
upper Niagara River can be computed. The uncertainty in
travel time depends on the accuracy of our knowledge of the
hydrogeologic system.
The interstitial velocity of flowing groundwater can be writ
ten as
vi = —, (8. 4)
~ as
where vi is the interstitial velocity, K is the hydraulic conduc
tivity, ~ is the effective porosity, and ohms is the hydraulic
gradient. Also note that for convenience the negative sign in
Eq. (8.4) has been omitted.
For steady uniform flow, travel time (t) is simply distance
(L) divided by interstitial velocity. If all reactions between
solute and the rock in which the groundwater is flowing are
considered to be simple equilibrium linear sorption reactions,
then the amount of solute present on the rock will be directly
proportional to the amount of solute present in the fluid. This
proportionality constant is the distribution coefficient, k`,, and
from it one can calculate the rate of movement of solute in a
flowing groundwater system relative to the rate of flow of the
transporting water itself according to the expression
water velocity = (1 + P kit), (8.5)
solute velocity
where p is the aquifer bulk density.
Adjusting velocities and travel times for this retardation ef
fect results in the following expression for solute travel times:
( ) (8. 6)
as
Although this is a relatively simple equation, there are consid
erable uncertainties associated with ¢, K, and kit, which lead
to uncertainties in the resulting calculated travel times. In this
analysis, best estimated travel times to reach surface water for
solute with various sorption properties are calculated. The un
certainty of this estimate is evaluated using Monte Carlo sim
ulation techniques. The Monte Carlo approach is used here
even though for some of the extreme cases shown a direct
analysis can be performed. The direct analysis is discussed
later. Note that it is immaterial as to how the contaminant
entered the groundwater in the Lockport Dolomite.
The following best estimates are selected for evaluating Eq.
(8. 61:
L = 200 m, distance from the south end of Love Canal to
the river;
K = 3.0 x 1O4 m/see (from aquifer test match, that is, 1.4
x 103 m2/sec/4.6 m, where a permeable thickness of 4.6 m
is assumed>;
dhlds = 1.52 x 1O4 (from measured hydraulic head);
p = 2.5 g/cm3, common limestone density (Clark, 19661;
~ = 0.02, effective porosity (estimated for fractured lime
stone from Winograd and Thordarson, 1975);
kd = 0 to 10 mL/g (estimated from Apps et al., 1977).
These values are best estimates from observed data, the aqui
fertest analysis, and our hydrologic judgment. Eq. (8.6) gives
a travel time for a perfect tracer (k`, = 0) or for the water itself
of 1005 days. That is, if the clays were breached or if solute
were transported through the clays, on entering the Lockport
Dolomite, it is estimated to take 1005 days for the solute moving
with the water to reach the river.
In order to assess the statistical properties in the predicted
results, it is first necessary to specify the statistical properties
of the uncertain parameters. In this case the parameters in Eq.
OCR for page 109
116
(8.6) that have the greatest uncertainty are the hydraulic con
ductivity, the porosity, and the distribution coefficient. In the
following analysis, ~ and K will be assumed to vary according
to specified frequency distributions. Sensitivity analysis may
be performed to evaluate the uncertainty in kit. There is also
uncertainty in the simple uniform flow model and in the hydraulic
gradient; however, this uncertainty will not be evaluated.
Freeze (1975) presented a large body of both direct and
indirect evidence that supports a lognormal frequency distri
bution for hydraulic conductivity. This distribution refers to
the variance of hydraulic conductivity in space. The situation
described by Eq. (8.6) is that of a constant, but uncertain,
hydraulic conductivity. To evaluate this uncertainty, we as
sume the same distribution. If the hydraulic conductivity is
lognormally distributed, a new parameter y = log K can be
defined that is normally distributed and can be described by
a mean value, ,uy, and a standard deviation, cry, that is, Nary,
ayl.
For this application, As = 1.9365 and cry = 0.5, that is,
K = 0 3 x 10~93~ + 05> m/day (8.7)
which is the value obtained from the aquifertest analysis, with
the standard deviation of onehalf log unit. Freeze (1975) gives
a range of hydraulic conductivity data for fractured rock with
standard deviations ranging from 0.20 to 1.56, with a mean of
0.6785. These values of standard deviations indicate a larger
spread of values for hydraulic conductivity than that deter
mined from the aquifer test. Because the values in Freeze
(1975) are more comprehensive, our value of onehalf log unit
was estimated from his data. We use feet per day to compute
travel times in terms of days.
For the first simulation, Case 1, we estimated porosity to be
2 percent, that is ~ = 0.02. Although in theory a value for
porosity may be calculated from the storage coefficient obtained
from the aquifer tests, in this case it was not possible. The
storage coefficient determined from the aquifer test indicates
that the aquifer compressibility is more important than the
water compressibility. Consequently, the storage coefficient is
relatively insensitive to porosity and could not be determined.
Values of K were chosen from a lognormal probability dis
tribution. This was done by recognizing that the values of Hi
= log ~ come from a normal probability distribution. The
normal distribution generator is
y = crySn + lye (8. 8)
where Sn is a random number taken from a normal distribution
with a zero mean and a standard deviation of one, NfO,11. To
obtain Sn, we use a random number, R*n' uniformly distributed
on the interval (0,11. R*n is used to compute Sn (also called the
random normal deviate, by Ralston and Wilf, 19671:
So = (  2 in R*n):L'2 sin 2~rR*, ~ ~ (8.9)
Using the value of y from Eq. (8.8), hydraulic conductivity is
computed from
K= 109
(8. 10)
and used in Eq. (8.6) to compute the travel time to the upper
Niagara River. To check convergence, we ran the Monte Carlo
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
simulations for 3200 and 6400 events. No significant difference
appeared to exist, and the 6400event distribution was used.
A plot of the fraction of events in each interval versus the
logarithm of travel time for a perfect tracer (k,` = 0) is shown
in Figure 8.6. Case 1 refers to the case where the "best esti
mate" for porosity is used. Note that if porosity were decreased
by an order of magnitude, the plot would shift one log unit to
the left.
The spread of the plotted travel times reflects the confidence
with which we are able to specify them, given the precision of
our estimate of the hydraulic conductivity, K. A range of 2
standard deviations on each side of the mean encompasses the
95 percent confidence interval. Based on the tabulated mean
and standard deviation in Table 8.3, this means that there is
a probability of less than 0.05 that the travel time of a tracer
(nonretarded element) will be greater than 10,000 days or less
than 100 days.
In case 2, we analyze the uncertainty in both hydraulic con
ductivity and porosity, but assume they are uncorrelated. The
same lognormal distribution for hydraulic conductivity is used,
but porosity also is assumed log normally distributed with a
standard deviation of 0.5 log unit. That is,
x=log+, (8.11)
where Nj,ux, (rXl and He =  1.70 and ax = 0.5. This corre
sponds to a mean porosity of 0.02. The values of porosity are
thus chosen from a lognormal probability distribution, rec
ognizing that the values of xi = log hi come from a normal
probability distribution. The normal generator is
X = (7xSn + ~ + ~X, (8. 12)
where Sn+~ is a random number taken from NfO,11. Sn+~ is
CASE 1
c
Hi. ,\\4 . , . . . 1
,
1.0 2.0 3,0 4.0 5.0 6.0
LOG TRAVEL TIME (DAYS)
r
10 1o2 103 104 105 1o6
TRAVEL T I ME ( DAYS )
FIGURE 8.6 Histogram of travel times in days of solute from the
south end of Love Canal to the upper Niagara River through the
Lockport Dolomite. Values are computed by Monte Carlo simulation
for known porosity, uncertain hydraulic conductivity, and kit = 0.
OCR for page 109
Groundwater Flow Modeling Study
117
TABLE 8.3 Value of Log Mean and Log Standard Deviation of Travel Times in Days of Solute from the South End of Love Canal
to the Upper Niagara River through the Lockport Dolomite for Several Values of Distribution Coefficients and Varying Uncertainty
Assumptions about Hydrologic Parametersa
Distribution
Coefficient
k,/ (mL/g)
0.0
Monte Carlo
Case 1
Direct Analysis
Case 2
Case 1 Case 2
0.0
0.1
.0
0.0
mean
sigma
mean
sigma
mean
sigma
mean
sigma
mean
sigma
3.00
0.503
3.35
0.501
4.13
0.502
5.10
0.503
6.11
0.504
3.00
0.721
3.42
0.545
4.16
0.497
5.10
0.502
6.08
0.506
3.00
0.5
4.10
0.5
5.10
0.5
6.10
0.5
3.00
0.707
4.10
0.5
5.10
0.5
6.10
0.5
"Values determined by both Monte Carlo and direct analysis, as shown.
cietermined from Ralston and Wilf (1967) as
Sn + ~ = ~—2 In R i'n)~'2 cos 21rR*n + i. (8. 13)
Eqs. (8.9) and (8.13) provide a corresponding pair of random
normal deviates with zero mean and unit variance for R*n and
R*n+l
Monte Carlo simulations for case 2 are not shown. The most
probable travel time again is 3.00 log days, but the standard
deviation now is 0.707 log unit. For this case, the probability
is less than 0.05 that the travel time of a tracer will be greater
than 25,942 days or less than 38 days. This broad spread in
travel times in case 2 (~ = 10° 707) is a result of our assumption
that porosity and hydraulic conductivity are completely un
correlated. There is unquestionably some correlation between
porosity and conductivity. However, the amount of correlation
is unknown; therefore, there exists uncertainty as to whether
the standard deviation of the appropriate travel time is closer
to 10°'5 or 10°7°7. We assume that the traveltime standard
deviation is adequately represented by that resulting from un
certainty in the conductivity alone, i.e., 10° 5, since it is prob
able that porosity is highly correlated with hydraulic conduc
tivity.
The preceding discussion and the results displayed in Figure
8.6 were restricted to solutes that are not retarded, i.e., to
tracers. Such solutes have kit values of zero, so that the par
enthetic expression within Eq. (8.6) equals 1. Many solutes are
likely to be retarded, having nonzero kit values.
To account for retardation, additional sets of Monte Carlo
simulations were made using Eq. (8.6) and k`' values of 0.01,
0.1, 1.0, and 10.0. Two runs were made for each kit value,
corresponding to the conductivity and porosity choices of the
two cases described above. The results of this sensitivity analy
sis are given in the form of tabulated log means and standard
deviations of travel time in Table 8.3.
The mean values of Table 8.3 show how retardation increases
travel times for larger values of kit is the same and approximately
equal to 10°5. This follows from direct analysis of the two
extreme situations in which ~ >> kit and ~ << A,. For either
extreme, Eq. (8.6) is linear in terms of logarithms. Because it
is assumed that K and
118
highly likely, a possibility that should not be overlooked is that
fissured zones exist in the confining bed. Therefore, in the
second case, we assume that the flow through the confining
layer is mainly through fractures. This is a clear possibility
because fissured clay in the upper shallow sediments in the
Love Canal area were described by Owens (1979) and have
been reported in other areas with similar geology (Freeze and
Cherry, 1979~. If fissured, the clay would behave more like a
fractured media, and an effective porosity of 0.0001 would be
appropriate. Using this value and the 3.0m thickness, the
travel time for a tracer through the confining bed would be
about 9 yr. Note that absorption would increase this value.
Of these two extreme cases, the one leading to a longer travel
time is more likely. This is because the sediments comprising
the confining bed are generally observed to be very moist. The
moisture is expected to cause the clay to swell, hence causing
the fractures to heal or close. This is supported by Owens
(1979), who observed that in the Love Canal area the fissured
clays grade to soft moist clays at about 2.7 to 3.4m depth. In
addition, Freeze and Cherry (1979) point out that fracture zones
in till and glaciolacustrine clay tend to be less permeable with
depth and that highly fractured zones usually occur only within
several meters of the ground surface.
The implication of an expected long travel time through the
confining bed is significant. If contamination is found in the
Lockport Dolomite, based on the above discussion, four pos
sible explanations, in order of plausibility, are the following:
1. The confining bed was breached during original construc
tion or during modification for disposal;
2. Contamination was caused by leakage from an upper zone
because of a poorly sealed well;
3. The confining bed is significantly fractured; or
4. Solvents or some other freephase organic may have sig
nificantly degraded the integrity of the confining bed.
CONCLUSIONS
In many modeling studies, a significant product is the increase
in understanding of the hydrologic system. By setting up the
model and conducting sensitivity analyses, the investigator gains
insight into the behavior of the system and is enabled to make
improved predictions of the system's response. This has oc
curred with the Love Canal study.
As with any modeling study, the worth of the results is
dependent on the input. Although there have been numerous
studies conducted at Love Canal, the collection of hydrologic
data at the canal has been accumulated over only a brief historic
interval; therefore, many conclusions must be presented with
a note of caution. Reliance on these predictions must be in
accordance with the limiting assumptions used in the models.
This is not to say that the results and predictions are mean
ingless. In addition to providing the only means in gaining any
understanding of the hydrologic system, the results of modeling
can be used to indicate additional data required to improve
predictions or strengthen conclusions.
The major conclusions from the Lockport modeling are a
JAMES W. MERGER, CHARLES R. FAUST, and LYLE R. SILKA
mixture of strong supportable conclusions and predictions that
require additional data input to gain confidence. Of importance
to the Love Canal problem is the potential for contamination
of the Lockport Dolomite. This hinges on whether the confining
clay beds have been breached under the canal. The vertical
Darcian flow velocity through the confining bed is low, with
rates on the order of 2.5 x 1O5 m/yr. The direction of flow
depends on the local gradient between the shallow system and
the dolomite. It could be in either direction, and as the heads
fluctuate seasonally, the gradient may reverse. Assuming a
downward gradient through the confining bed, and that the
confining bed was not breached and does not contain fracture
zones, it would take a nonadsorbing solute on the order of
hundreds to thousands of years to reach the dolomite. If ad
sorption occurs, travel times will be even longer. If contami
nants traceable to the chemicals disposed in the canal are found
in the dolomite, the most likely explanation is that the confining
layer was breached, given the long travel times calculated for
the confining bed. If the confining beds were breached, down
ward flow could produce a groundwater high in the dolomite.
Since the hydraulic heads in the two systems are nearly equal,
however, it is not possible, based on hydrologic evidence alone,
to determine whether the confining bed was breached. Thus,
additional data would help to resolve this issue. Namely, chem
ical analyses of Lockport Dolomite groundwater should be ob
tained to determine if contaminants are present, and longer
term historical data on the head distributions in the shallow
and Lockport systems are needed to better identify mounds
and gradients between the two systems.
If contaminants were to enter the Lockport Dolomite at the
south end of Love Canal, and if there were no adsorption, the
mean travel time to the upper Niagara River for the solute
would be 1000 days. This is dependent on assumptions con
cerning the flow properties. Nevertheless, the gradient in the
dolomite toward the river may be reversed by placing inter
ceptor wells near the south end of Love Canal. This can be
accomplished with a total pumpage as low as 32.3 m3/day.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The work on which this Love Canal study is based was per
formed under Subcontract No. 1619026222003D to GCA/
Technology Division pursuant to U.S. Environmental Protec
tion Agency Contract No. 68023168, Technical Service Area
3, Work Assignment No. 26.
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