Superior Subsurface Characterization Using Fractal-Based Hydraulic Conductivity Distributions

EPA Grant Number: R826171
Title: Superior Subsurface Characterization Using Fractal-Based Hydraulic Conductivity Distributions
Investigators: Molz, Fred J.
Current Investigators: Molz, Fred J. , Lu, Silong
Institution: Clemson University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: November 17, 1997 through November 16, 2000 (Extended to November 16, 2001)
Project Amount: $218,961
RFA: Exploratory Research - Environmental Engineering (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , Land and Waste Management


The overall objective is to use stochastic fractals to represent subsurface property distributions, particularly hydraulic conductivity (K), that are highly heterogeneous. To accomplish this, fractal structure will be illustrated in existing and new data sets. The most appropriate fractals will be selected, and a general scheme will be developed for generating fractal property realizations conditioned on (reproducing) the data. User-friendly computer programs will then be developed for identification of fractal structures, determination of values for fractal parameters, and generation of fractal distributions in three dimensions.


The research will focus on developing further understanding of the type of fractal structure found in natural K distributions, and the development of software that transforms vertically-distributed K measurements into 3D data sets suitable for transport analyses, including input to contaminant transport models. By using fractals to represent the K measurements, heterogeneity and statistical structure present in the data are preserved. Such representations exhibit variations on all scales that is typical of natural heterogeneous systems.

Expected Results:

The research aims to put the use of fractal properties in K dis-tributions on a practical basis by developing algorithms for producing 3D, fractal representations. One anticipated outcome is ground water flow and contaminant transport models that are improved significantly. In the area of site characterization, fractal-based approaches allow one to deal with irregular, highly variable, property distributions in a realistic way. This will result in improved simulation methodology in support of risk assessment and natural attenuation studies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 9 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 4 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Transport, porous media, site characterization, fractals, heterogeneity, hydraulic conductivity., Scientific Discipline, Waste, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Chemistry, Fate & Transport, Environmental Engineering, risk assessment, natural attenuation, computer science, subsurface characterization, fractal properties, hydraulic conductivity, porous media, contaminant transport models

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998 Progress Report
  • 1999
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report