Water Resources Research

Hydraulic conductivity fields: Gaussian or not?



[1] Hydraulic conductivity (K) fields are used to parameterize groundwater flow and transport models. Numerical simulations require a detailed representation of the K field, synthesized to interpolate between available data. Several recent studies introduced high-resolution K data (HRK) at the Macro Dispersion Experiment (MADE) site, and used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to delineate the main structural features of the aquifer. This paper describes a statistical analysis of these data, and the implications for K field modeling in alluvial aquifers. Two striking observations have emerged from this analysis. The first is that a simple fractional difference filter can have a profound effect on data histograms, organizing non-Gaussian ln K data into a coherent distribution. The second is that using GPR facies allows us to reproduce the significantly non-Gaussian shape seen in real HRK data profiles, using a simulated Gaussian ln K field in each facies. This illuminates a current controversy in the literature, between those who favor Gaussian ln K models, and those who observe non-Gaussian ln K fields. Both camps are correct, but at different scales.