Hydrogeology Journal

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 536–548 | Cite as

Capture zone, travel time, and solute-transport predictions using inverse modeling and different geological models

  • William G. HarrarEmail author
  • Torben Obel Sonnenborg
  • Hans Jørgen Henriksen


Six regional-scale flow models are compared to gain insight into how different representations of hydraulic-conductivity distributions affect model calibration and predictions. Deterministic geological models were used to define hydraulic-conductivity distributions in two steady-state flow models that were calibrated to heads and baseflow estimates using inverse techniques. Optimized hydraulic-conductivity estimates from the two models were used to calculate layer and model mean hydraulic-conductivity values. Despite differences in the two geological models, inverse calibration produced mean hydraulic-conductivity values for the entire model domain that are quite similar. The layer and model mean hydraulic-conductivity values were used to generate four additional flow models and forward runs were performed. All of the models adequately simulate the observed heads and total baseflow. The six flow models were used to predict the steady-state impact of a proposed well field, and the flow solutions were used in simulating particle tracking and solute transport. Results of the predictive simulations show that, for this example, simple models of heterogeneity produce capture zones similar to more complex models, but with very different travel times and breakthroughs. Inverse modeling combined with different geological models can provide a measure of capture zone and breakthrough reliability.


Sedimentary heterogeneity Geological models Zonation Capture zone Inverse modeling Predictions 


Six modèles d'écoulement à l'échelle régionale sont comparés afin d'avoir un aperçu de la manière dont les différentes représentations de la distribution de la conductivité hydraulique affectent la calibration et les prédictions de modèles. Des modèles géologiques déterministes ont été utilisés pour définir les distributions de la conductivité hydraulique dans deux modèles d'écoulement en régime permanent qui ont été calibrés avec des estimations des charges et des écoulements de base faites par des techniques inverses. Les estimations optimisées de la conductivité hydraulique de ces deux modèles ont servi à calculer les valeurs de conductivité hydraulique moyenne des couches et du modèle. Malgré des différences entre les deux modèles géologiques, la calibration inverse a donné des valeurs de conductivité hydraulique moyenne pour le domaine complet du modèle qui sont complètement semblables. Les valeurs de la conductivité moyenne des couches et du modèle ont été utilisées pour générer quatre modèles d'écoulement supplémentaires et des traitements ont été effectués. Tous les modèles simulent correctement les charges observées et l'écoulement de base total. Les six modèles ont servi à prédire l'impact en régime permanent d'un champ captant projeté et les solutions d'écoulement ont été utilisées dans une simulation par suivi de particules et de transport de soluté. Les résultats de simulations prédictives montrent que, pour cet exemple, de simples modèles d'hétérogénéité fournissent des zones de capture semblables aux modèles plus complexes, mais pour des temps de parcours et des restitutions très différents. Une modélisation inverse combinée à différents modèles géologiques peut assurer une mesure de la zone de capture et une fiabilité de la restitution.


Se compara seis modelos de flujo a escala regional para conocer cómo afecta a la calibración y a la predicción del modelo diversas representaciones de la distribución de la conductividad hidráulica. Se ha utilizado modelos geológicos deterministas para definir las distribuciones de la conductividad hidráulica en dos modelos de flujo permanente, calibrados mediante técnicas inversas con niveles piezométricos y estimaciones del flujo de base. Se ha adoptado estimaciones optimizadas de la conductividad hidráulica de los dos modelos para calcular las cotas de las capas y sus conductividades hidráulicas medias. A pesar de las diferencias entre ambos modelos geológicos, con la calibración inversa se obtiene valores similares de conductividad hidráulica en todo el dominio. Estos valores de las capas y de las conductividades hidráulicas medias han servido para generar cuatro modelos adicionales de flujo y realizar predicciones. Todos los modelos simulan de forma adecuada los niveles observados y los caudales de base. Los seis modelos han sido aplicados a la predicción del impacto estacionario de un campo de pozos, y las soluciones del flujo permiten simular el transporte de partículas y de solutos. Los resultados de estas predicciones muestran que, para este ejemplo, los modelos sencillos de la heterogeneidad dan lugar a zonas de captura similares a las generadas por modelos más complejos, pero aparecen grandes diferencias en los tiempos de tránsito y en las curvas de llegada. Una combinación de modelación inversa y de modelos geológicos diferentes puede proporcionar una medida de la fiabilidad de la zona de captura y de las curvas de llegada.



This study was conducted as part of the project entitled "National Water Resources Model" that was cooperatively funded by the Danish Environmental Ministry and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. We appreciate the comments and suggestions of John Barker, Jens Christian Refsgaard, and two anonymous reviewers. The authors thank Mette Dahl for assistance in analyzing the baseflow data, and Per Nygaard, Jørn Morthurst, and Bente Mörch for assistance with the geological models. We are also grateful to Kristian Rasmussen for preparing the technical illustrations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • William G. Harrar
    • 1
    Email author
  • Torben Obel Sonnenborg
    • 2
  • Hans Jørgen Henriksen
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological Survey of Denmark and GreenlandCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Environment & Resources DTUTechnical University of DenmarkKgs. LyngbyDenmark

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