Groundwater Services, Inc.

FATE 5: A Natural Attenuation Calibration Tool for Groundwater Fate and Transport Modeling

- By: , , , , ,

Courtesy of Groundwater Services, Inc.

A new groundwater attenuation modeling tool (FATE 5) has been developed to assist users with determining site-specific natural attenuation rates for organic constituents dissolved in groundwater. FATE 5 is based on and represents an enhancement to the Domenico analytical groundwater transport model (Domenico, 1987). These enhancements include use of an optimization routine to match results from the Domenico model to actual measured site concentrations, an extensive database of chemical property data, and calculation of an estimate of the length of time needed for a plume to reach steady state conditions. FATE 5 was developed in Microsoft ® Excel and is controlled by means of a simple, user-friendly graphical interface.

Using the Solver routine built into Excel, FATE 5 is able to calibrate the attenuation rate used by the Domenico model to match site-specific data. By calibrating the decay rate to site-specific measurements, FATE 5 can yield accurate predictions of long-term natural attenuation processes within a groundwater plume. In addition, FATE 5 includes a formulation of the transient Domenico solution used to help the user determine if the steady-state assumptions employed by the model are appropriate. The calibrated groundwater flow model can then be used either to i) predict upper-bound constituent concentrations in groundwater, based on an observed source zone concentration, or ii) back-calculate a lower-bound SSTL value, based on a user-specified exposure point concentration at the groundwater point of exposure (POE).

This paper reviews the major elements of the FATE 5 model and gives results for real-world applications. Key modeling assumptions and summary guidelines regarding calculation procedures and input parameter selection are also addressed.

FATE 5 was developed by Groundwater Services, Inc. (GSI) with support from the Partners in RBCA Implementation (PIRI) group. FATE 5 is based on the original Fate spreadsheet developed by Paul Johnson of Arizona State University formerly with Shell Development Company. The FATE 5 calculation engine was originally developed by John Gustafson also formerly at Shell Development Company, Houston, Texas.

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