Quasi-Monte Carlo based global uncertainty and sensitivity analysis in modeling free product migration and recovery from petroleum-contaminated aquifers

Li He, Gordon Huang, Hongwei Lu, Shuo Wang, Yi Xu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a global uncertainty and sensitivity analysis (GUSA) framework based on global sensitivity analysis (GSA) and generalized likelihood uncertainty estimation (GLUE) methods. Quasi-Monte Carlo (QMC) is employed by GUSA to obtain realizations of uncertain parameters, which are then input to the simulation model for analysis. Compared to GLUE, GUSA can not only evaluate global sensitivity and uncertainty of modeling parameter sets, but also quantify the uncertainty in modeling prediction sets. Moreover, GUSA's another advantage lies in alleviation of computational effort, since those globally-insensitive parameters can be identified and removed from the uncertain-parameter set. GUSA is applied to a practical petroleum-contaminated site in Canada to investigate free product migration and recovery processes under aquifer remediation operations. Results from global sensitivity analysis show that (1) initial free product thickness has the most significant impact on total recovery volume but least impact on residual free product thickness and recovery rate; (2) total recovery volume and recovery rate are sensitive to residual LNAPL phase saturations and soil porosity. Results from uncertainty predictions reveal that the residual thickness would remain high and almost unchanged after about half-year of skimmer-well scheme; the rather high residual thickness (0.73-1.56m 20 years later) indicates that natural attenuation would not be suitable for the remediation. The largest total recovery volume would be from water pumping, followed by vacuum pumping, and then skimmer. The recovery rates of the three schemes would rapidly decrease after 2 years (less than 0.05m3/day), thus short-term remediation is not suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquifer remediation
  • Free product recovery
  • Global uncertainty and sensitivity analysis
  • GLUE
  • Quasi-Monte Carlo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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