Discontinuous Galerkin (DG) methods for variable density groundwater flow and solute transport
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Coastal regions are the most densely populated regions of the world. The populations of these regions continue to grow which has created a high demand for water that stresses existing water resources. Coastal aquifers provide a source of water for coastal populations and are generally part of a larger system where freshwater aquifers are hydraulically connected with a saline surface-water body. They are characterized by salinity variations in space and time, sharp freshwater/saltwater interfaces which can lead to dramatic density differences, and complex groundwater chemistry. Mismanagement of coastal aquifers can lead to saltwater intrusion, the displacement of fresh water by saline water in the freshwater regions of the aquifers, making them unusable as a freshwater source. Saltwater intrusion is of significant interest to water resource managers and efficient simulators are needed to assist them. Numerical simulation of saltwater intrusion requires solving a system of flow and transport equations coupled through a density equation of state. The scale of the problem domain, irregular geometry and heterogeneity can require significant computational resources. Also, modeling sharp transition zones and accurate flow velocities pose numerical challenges. Discontinuous Galerkin (DG) finite element methods (FEM) have been shown to be well suited for modeling flow and transport in porous media but a fully coupled DG formulation has not been applied to the variable density flow and transport model. DG methods have many desirable characteristics in the areas of numerical stability, mesh and polynomial approximation adaptivity and the use of non-conforming meshes. These properties are especially desirable when working with complex geometries over large scales and when coupling multi-physics models (e.g. surface water and groundwater flow models). In this dissertation, we investigate a new combined local discontinuous Galerkin (LDG) and non-symmetric, interior penalty Galerkin (NIPG) formulation for the non-linear coupled flow and solute transport equations that model saltwater intrusion. Our main goal is the formulation and numerical implementation of a robust, efficient, tightly-coupled combined LDG/NIPG formulation within the Department of Defense (DoD) Proteus Computational Mechanics Toolkit modeling framework. We conduct an extensive and systematic code and model verification (using established benchmark problems and proven convergence rates) and model validation (using experimental data) to verify accomplishment of this goal. Lastly, we analyze the accuracy and conservation properties of the numerical model. More specifically, we derive an a priori error estimate for the coupled system and conduct a flow/transport model compatibility analysis to prove conservation properties.