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Keywords:

  • prediction uncertainty;
  • sensitivities;
  • correlation;
  • value of information;
  • data worth;
  • advective transport

[1] Calibrated models of groundwater systems can provide substantial information for guiding data collection. This work considers using such models to guide hydrogeologic data collection for improving model predictions by identifying model parameters that are most important to the predictions. Identification of these important parameters can help guide collection of field data about parameter values and associated flow system features and can lead to improved predictions. Methods for identifying parameters important to predictions include prediction scaled sensitivities (PSS), which account for uncertainty on individual parameters as well as prediction sensitivity to parameters, and a new “value of improved information” (VOII) method presented here, which includes the effects of parameter correlation in addition to individual parameter uncertainty and prediction sensitivity. In this work, the PSS and VOII methods are demonstrated and evaluated using a model of the Death Valley regional groundwater flow system. The predictions of interest are advective transport paths originating at sites of past underground nuclear testing. Results show that for two paths evaluated the most important parameters include a subset of five or six of the 23 defined model parameters. Some of the parameters identified as most important are associated with flow system attributes that do not lie in the immediate vicinity of the paths. Results also indicate that the PSS and VOII methods can identify different important parameters. Because the methods emphasize somewhat different criteria for parameter importance, it is suggested that parameters identified by both methods be carefully considered in subsequent data collection efforts aimed at improving model predictions.