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Modeling Subsurface Petroleum Hydrocarbon Transport

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Notice how different phenomena contribute to the same outcome:

Outcome Contributing Phenomena
Reduction of concentration Biodegradataion
Separation of MTBE from benzene Biodegradation of benzene
Less sorption of MTBE
Higher Observed MTBE concentrations than benzene concentration Biodegradation of benzene
More MTBE in fuel than benzene
Higher water solubility of MTBE

These similarities lead to a difficulty: "If several phenomena cause similar impacts on observed concentrations, then how can the effects of the phenomena be isolated from each other?" This is far from an academic question, because when modeling plumes we rely on field data to calibrate models. The similarity of effects implies that several parameter sets could represent the same data. This too we will encounter later in the course.

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