This study is aimed at quantifying the difference in aquifer's response to recharge between some different locations in a fan aquifer and a delta aquifer for a preliminary study of revealing mechanisms of water transport in alluvial aquifer. The aquifer's response to recharge is statistically quantified with the two viewpoints: (1) timing and volume of recharge and (2) time length of aquifer's holding water. For the first point, a statistical model that links precipitation and groundwater level is introduced, and its parameters are identified using correlation analysis. Our results show that the recharge rate at the toe is higher than that at the apex and at the delta. For the second point, the concept of ‘memory effect’ of aquifer is adopted and quantified using the autocorrelation and spectral analyses. Our results show that the memory effect is longer at the toe of fan than at the apex, and thus, a temporary increase of water level has about five times as long-term influence on subsequent water levels at the toe of the fan as at the apex. This study demonstrates that the statistical analyses and modeling of hydrological data are useful for characterizing aquifer's hydrodynamics. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.