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The Value of Subsidence Data in Ground Water Model Calibration


Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, 4044 Derring Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061;


The accurate estimation of aquifer parameters such as transmissivity and specific storage is often an important objective during a ground water modeling investigation or aquifer resource evaluation. Parameter estimation is often accomplished with changes in hydraulic head data as the key and most abundant type of observation. The availability and accessibility of global positioning system and interferometric synthetic aperture radar data in heavily pumped alluvial basins can provide important subsidence observations that can greatly aid parameter estimation. The aim of this investigation is to evaluate the value of spatial and temporal subsidence data for automatically estimating parameters with and without observation error using UCODE-2005 and MODFLOW-2000. A synthetic conceptual model (24 separate cases) containing seven transmissivity zones and three zones each for elastic and inelastic skeletal specific storage was used to simulate subsidence and drawdown in an aquifer with variably thick interbeds with delayed drainage. Five pumping wells of variable rates were used to stress the system for up to 15 years. Calibration results indicate that (1) the inverse of the square of the observation values is a reasonable way to weight the observations, (2) spatially abundant subsidence data typically produce superior parameter estimates under constant pumping even with observation error, (3) only a small number of subsidence observations are required to achieve accurate parameter estimates, and (4) for seasonal pumping, accurate parameter estimates for elastic skeletal specific storage values are largely dependent on the quantity of temporal observational data and less on the quantity of available spatial data.