Water Resources Research

Effectiveness of hydraulic tomography: Sandbox experiments



[1] Two sandbox experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of a sequential geostatistical inverse approach for hydraulic tomography in characterizing aquifer heterogeneity. One sandbox was packed with layered sands to represent a stratified aquifer, while the other was packed with discontinuous sand bodies of different shapes and sizes to represent a more complex and realistic heterogeneous aquifer. Parallel to the sandbox experiments, numerical experiments were conducted to assess the effects of measurement errors and uncertainties associated with laboratory data, and to diagnose the hydraulic conductivity estimates obtained from sandbox experiments. Results of this study show that our sequential inverse approach works well under realistic conditions, in spite of measurement errors and uncertainties associated with pumping rates, boundary conditions, pressure head measurements, and other parameters required by our model. The tomography was found to be ineffective if abundant head measurements were collected at closely spaced intervals in a highly stratified aquifer. On the other hand, it was found to be beneficial when pressure head measurements were limited and the geological structure was discontinuous.