Modeling contaminant transport of diffusive contaminants is generally difficult, as most contaminants are located in the top soil where soil properties will vary strongly with depth and often a strong gradient in contaminant concentrations exists. When groundwater periodically penetrates the contaminated layers, stationary models (like most 3D models) cannot adequately describe contaminant transport. Therefore we have combined a hydrological instationary model using a 1D distributed column approach with a simple geochemical model to describe contaminant transport in the soil. Special to this model is that it includes lateral drainage from the soil column to different types of surface waters, which makes it possible to calculate surface water emissions especially for fluctuating groundwater tables. To test this model approach, we used it to quantify surface water emissions from soils in a catchment in the Kempen area which has been diffusively contaminated with Cd and Zn by zinc smelters. We ran the model for the period 1880–2000, starting with an uncontaminated soil in 1880. The model could describe both water discharge, surface water concentrations and current soil contents of Cd and Zn well. Further the model calculations showed that a stationary approach would underestimate leaching to surface waters considerably.
- hydraulic conductivity
- automatic calibration