Two modelling approaches to water-quality simulation in a flooded iron-ore mine (Saizerais, Lorraine, France): a semi-distributed chemical reactor model and a physically based distributed reactive transport pipe network model

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Journal: J Contam Hydrol 2007/11/27
Published: 2008
Authors: Hamm, V.;Collon-Drouaillet, P.;Fabriol, R.
Address: BRGM, 1 Av. du parc de Brabois, 54500 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France. v.hamm@brgm.fr

The flooding of abandoned mines in the Lorraine Iron Basin (LIB) over the past 25 years has degraded the quality of the groundwater tapped for drinking water. High concentrations of dissolved sulphate have made the water unsuitable for human consumption. This problematic issue has led to the development of numerical tools to support water-resource management in mining contexts. Here we examine two modelling approaches using different numerical tools that we tested on the Saizerais flooded iron-ore mine (Lorraine, France). A first approach considers the Saizerais Mine as a network of two chemical reactors (NCR). The second approach is based on a physically distributed pipe network model (PNM) built with EPANET 2 software. This approach considers the mine as a network of pipes defined by their geometric and chemical parameters. Each reactor in the NCR model includes a detailed chemical model built to simulate quality evolution in the flooded mine water. However, in order to obtain a robust PNM, we simplified the detailed chemical model into a specific sulphate dissolution-precipitation model that is included as sulphate source/sink in both a NCR model and a pipe network model. Both the NCR model and the PNM, based on different numerical techniques, give good post-calibration agreement between the simulated and measured sulphate concentrations in the drinking-water well and overflow drift. The NCR model incorporating the detailed chemical model is useful when a detailed chemical behaviour at the overflow is needed. The PNM incorporating the simplified sulphate dissolution-precipitation model provides better information of the physics controlling the effect of flow and low flow zones, and the time of solid sulphate removal whereas the NCR model will underestimate clean-up time due to the complete mixing assumption. In conclusion, the detailed NCR model will give a first assessment of chemical processes at overflow, and in a second time, the PNM model will provide more detailed information on flow and chemical behaviour (dissolved sulphate concentrations, remaining mass of solid sulphate) in the network. Nevertheless, both modelling methods require hydrological and chemical parameters (recharge flow rate, outflows, volume of mine voids, mass of solids, kinetic constants of the dissolution-precipitation reactions), which are commonly not available for a mine and therefore call for calibration data.

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