Laboratory observation of nonlocal dispersion

Steven P.K. Sternberg, John H. Cushman, Robert A. Greenkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This work presents the results of a one-dimensional experimental investigation of contaminant transport in heterogeneous porous media. The usual transport equations fail to adequately predict dispersion in such systems, and new theories to account for the distinctions have not yet been examined experimentally. We use a one-dimensional porous media which is heterogeneous on the scale of observation to determine if the phenomena predicted by the new theories are observable. The experimental media are constructed from distinct layers of spherical glass beads packed into cylindrical columns of Lucite. Flow was in the direction perpendicular to the layers. Dispersion was measured by recording the concentration of a chloride tracer as a function of time and position. The scale of measurement was finer than the scale of the heterogeneity. The results show that the mixing between miscible fluids was affected by transitions in the system parameters, before the transitions were encountered by the mixing zone. This newly observed phenomenon has been interpreted as a nonlocal effect, and it begins to verify the new predictive theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-151
Number of pages17
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Experimental media
  • Heterogeneous porous media
  • Nonlocal dispersion


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