Metaphors and Models: The ASR Bubble in the Floridan Aquifer

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Studies at the intersection of cognitive science and linguistics have revealed the crucial role that metaphors play in shaping our thoughts about phenomena we cannot see. According to the domains interaction theory of cognition, a metaphoric expression sets up mappings between a target domain that we wish to understand and a familiar source domain. The source domain contains elements (“commonplaces”) that we manipulate mentally, like parts of an analogue model, to illuminate the target domain. This paper applies the structure of domains interaction theory to analyze the dynamics of a metaphor in hydrogeology: the so-called bubble formed by water injected into an aquifer during aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). Of the four commonplaces of bubbles—(1) they are discrete; (2) they are geometrically simple; (3) they rise; and (4) they burst—we focus on the first two using both displacement and dispersion (tracer) models for both homogeneous and heterogeneous storage zones patterned from geological studies of the Suwannee Limestone of Sarasota County, Florida. The displacement model easily shows that “bottle brush” better represents the geometric complexity predicted from the known and inferred heterogeneity. There is virtually no difference, however, in the prediction of recovery efficiency using the dispersion model for a bubble (homogeneous flow zone) vs. bottle brush (heterogeneous flow zone). On the other hand, only the bottle brush reveals that unrecovered tracer is located preferentially in the low-permeability layers that lie adjacent to high-permeability channels in the flow zones.

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Groundwater, v. 44, issue 2, p. 144-154

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