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147 Characterization of Porous and Fractured Media

Part 13. Groundwater

  1. Philippe Renard1,
  2. Jaime Gómez-Hernández2,
  3. Souheil Ezzedine3

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa154

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Renard, P., Gómez-Hernández, J. and Ezzedine, S. 2006. Characterization of Porous and Fractured Media. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 13:147.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Neuchâtel, Centre for Hydrogeology, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

  2. 2

    Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Department of Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering, Valencia, Spain

  3. 3

    University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The characterization of porous or fractured media is a site, scale, and project-specific process aiming at a quantitative description of the geometry and properties of the geological structures controlling groundwater flow and solute transport. The characterization process involves four main steps (i) the definition of the domain and the goals of the characterization; (ii) the collection and analysis of field observations allowing the construction of a geometrical model; (iii) the collection and analysis of field measurements allowing to construct a property model; and (iv) the collection and analysis of field data relative to the state of the system and their integration within the geometrical and property models (inverse problem). When data are sufficient and structures are relatively well known, deterministic techniques of interpolation can be successfully applied to construct the geometric or the parameter models. However, because of the lack of sufficient data, stochastic models are often employed to characterize the heterogeneity that usually exists; such models also facilitate the quantification of the uncertainty in model predictions. Without describing the details of every technique, this article provides an overview of the tools most often used for the characterization of porous or fractured aquifers.


  • characterization;
  • aquifers;
  • geometry;
  • heterogeneity;
  • modeling;
  • interpolation;
  • fractured rocks;
  • geostatistics;
  • scales;
  • genetic models;
  • inversion