Reviews of Geophysics

Basin-scale hydrogeologic modeling


  • Mark Person,

  • Jeff P. Raffensperger,

  • Shemin Ge,

  • Grant Garven


Mathematical modeling of coupled groundwater flow, heat transfer, and chemical mass transport at the sedimentary basin scale has been increasingly used by Earth scientists studying a wide range of geologic processes including the formation of excess pore pressures, infiltration-driven metamorphism, heat flow anomalies, nuclear waste isolation, hydrothermal ore genesis, sediment diagenesis, basin tectonics, and petroleum generation and migration. These models have provided important insights into the rates and pathways of groundwater migration through basins, the relative importance of different driving mechanisms for fluid flow, and the nature of coupling between the hydraulic, thermal, chemical, and stress regimes. The mathematical descriptions of basin transport processes, the analytical and numerical solution methods employed, and the application of modeling to sedimentary basins around the world are the subject of this review paper. The special considerations made to represent coupled transport processes at the basin scale are emphasized. Future modeling efforts will probably utilize three-dimensional descriptions of transport processes, incorporate greater information regarding natural geological heterogeneity, further explore coupled processes, and involve greater field applications.