, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 557-572

Artificial neural network modeling for identification of unknown pollution sources in groundwater with partially missing concentration observation data

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Groundwater pollution sources are characterized by spatially and temporally varying source locations, injection rates, and duration of activity. Concentration measurement data at specified observation locations are generally utilized to identify these sources characteristics. Identification of unknown groundwater pollution sources in terms of these source characteristics becomes more difficult in the absence of complete breakthrough curves of concentration history at all the time steps. If concentration observations are missing over a length of time after an unknown source has become active, it is even more difficult to correctly identify the unknown sources. An artificial neural network (ANN) based methodology is developed to identify these source characteristics for such a missing data scenario, when concentration measurement data over an initial length of time is not available. The source characteristics and the corresponding concentration measurements at time steps for which it is not missing, constitute a pattern for training the ANN. A groundwater flow and transport numerical simulation model is utilized to generate the necessary patterns for training the ANN. Performance evaluation results show that the back-propagation based ANN model is essentially capable of extracting hidden relationship between patterns of available concentration measurement values, and the corresponding sources characteristics, resulting in identification of unknown groundwater pollution sources. The performance of the methodology is also evaluated for different levels of noise (or measurement errors) in concentration measurement data at available time steps.