Modelling density-dependent flow and solute transport at the Lake Tutchewop saline disposal complex, Victoria

Craig T. Simmons, Kumar A. Narayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Intercepted saline groundwaters and drainage effluent from irrigation are commonly stored in both natural and artificial saline disposal basins throughout the Murray-Darling Basin of Australia. Their continued use as wastewater evaporation sites requires an understanding of existing groundwater dynamics. The useful lifetimes of individual basins, their sustainability and possible environmental impacts remain largely unknown. In this work, the movement of salt to the underlying groundwater system from Lake Tutchewop, a saline disposal complex in north-central Victoria, was modelled in cross-section. Due to the salinity contrast between the hypersaline basin waters and the regional groundwater, it was necessary to simulate density-dependent flow behaviour. Under certain conditions, these density-stratified systems may become unstable leading to the onset of convective behaviour, which greatly increases the movement of salt from the basin to the groundwater system. Modelled concentration profiles in the aquifer system and calculated seepage rates from the basin show that Lake Tutchewop is stable under its present operating regime. The downward movement of salt is mainly controlled by diffusion and dispersion. The calibrated model was used to assess the impact of several management scenarios using time-dependent boundary conditions for lake salinity and water levels. The influence of heterogeneous basin linings on ensuing salt flux rates is examined, and results show that increased solute transport will occur under such conditions. A sensitivity analysis performed on governing variables showed that salt fluxes were most sensitive to lake salinity levels. A solute Rayleigh number defined in terms of basin salinity and hydrogeologic parameters is seen to be an effective tool for predicting the long term behaviour of such saline disposal basins. The models and concepts developed in this work may find application in the design and management of saline disposal complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-236
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume206
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1998

Keywords

  • Mixed convection
  • Rayleigh number
  • Salt lake
  • SUTRA Model

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