Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


John S Gierke


The primary challenge in groundwater and contaminant transport modeling is obtaining the data needed for constructing, calibrating and testing the models. Large amounts of data are necessary for describing the hydrostratigraphy in areas with complex geology. Increasingly states are making spatial data available that can be used for input to groundwater flow models. The appropriateness of this data for large-scale flow systems has not been tested. This study focuses on modeling a plume of 1,4-dioxane in a heterogeneous aquifer system in Scio Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan. The analysis consisted of: (1) characterization of hydrogeology of the area and construction of a conceptual model based on publicly available spatial data, (2) development and calibration of a regional flow model for the site, (3) conversion of the regional model to a more highly resolved local model, (4) simulation of the dioxane plume, and (5) evaluation of the model's ability to simulate field data and estimation of the possible dioxane sources and subsequent migration until maximum concentrations are at or below the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's residential cleanup standard for groundwater (85 ppb). MODFLOW-2000 and MT3D programs were utilized to simulate the groundwater flow and the development and movement of the 1, 4-dioxane plume, respectively. MODFLOW simulates transient groundwater flow in a quasi-3-dimensional sense, subject to a variety of boundary conditions that can simulate recharge, pumping, and surface-/groundwater interactions. MT3D simulates solute advection with groundwater flow (using the flow solution from MODFLOW), dispersion, source/sink mixing, and chemical reaction of contaminants. This modeling approach was successful at simulating the groundwater flows by calibrating recharge and hydraulic conductivities. The plume transport was adequately simulated using literature dispersivity and sorption coefficients, although the plume geometries were not well constrained.

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