Planning MAR schemes using physical models: Comparison of laboratory and field experiments

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Infiltration experiments in the context of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) are often conducted to assess the processes influencing the operation of full-scale MAR schemes. For this, physical models such as laboratory experiments and, less often, field experiments are used to determine process specifics or operational parameters. Due to several assumptions, scale-related limitations, and differing boundary conditions, the upscaling of results from the physical models is not straightforward. Investigations often lead to over- or underestimations of flow processes that constrain the translation of results to field-like conditions. To understand the restrictions and potential of different physical models for MAR assessment, surface infiltration experiments in different scales and dimensions, which maintained the same operational parameters, were conducted. The results from the different setups were compared against each other regarding the reproduction water flow in the vadose zone and the influence of parameters such as soil type and climate. Results show that mostly qualitative statements can be made, whereas quantitative analysis through laboratory experiments is limited.


Original languageEnglish
Article number3652
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019



  • Field experiments, Laboratory experiments, Managed aquifer recharge, Physical models, Scaling, Vadose zone flow