• seawater intrusion;
  • small islands;
  • numerical modelling;
  • inverse modelling;
  • predictive analysis


A number of challenges including instability, nonconvergence, nonuniqueness, nonoptimality, and lack of a general guideline for inverse modelling have limited the application of automatic calibration by generic inversion codes in solving the saltwater intrusion problem in real-world cases. A systematic parameter selection procedure for the selection of a small number of independent parameters is applied to a real case of saltwater intrusion in a small island aquifer system in the semiarid region of the Persian Gulf. The methodology aims at reducing parameter nonuniqueness and uncertainty and the time spent on inverse modelling computations. Subsequent to the automatic calibration of the numerical model, uncertainty is analysed by constrained nonlinear optimization of the inverse model. The results define the percentage of uncertainty in the parameter estimation that will maintain the model inside a user-defined neighbourhood of the best possible calibrated model. Sensitivity maps of both pressure and concentration for the small island aquifer system are also developed. These sensitivity maps indicate higher sensitivity of pressure to model parameters compared with concentration. These sensitivity maps serve as a benchmark for correlation analysis and also assist in the selection of observations points of pressure and concentration in the calibration process. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.