, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 1281-1284
Date: 25 Oct 2011

Editor’s message: Groundwater modeling fantasies —part 1, adrift in the details

This is an excerpt from the content

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. …Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it. (Epigrams in Programming by Alan Perlis, a computer scientist; Perlis 1982).

A doctoral student creating a groundwater model of a regional aquifer put individual circular regions around data points where he had hydraulic head measurements, so that each region’s parameter values could be adjusted to get perfect fit with the measurement at that point. Nearly every measurement point had its own parameter-value region. After calibration, the student was satisfied because his model correctly reproduced all of his data. Did he really get the true field values of parameters in this manner? Did this approach result in a realistic, meaningful and useful groundwater model?—truly doubtful. Is this story a sign of a common style of educating hydrogeology students these days? Where this is the case, major changes are needed to add back ‘common-sense hydrogeo ...

Clifford Voss is the Executive Editor of Hydrogeology Journal.