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Abstract

While tomographic inversion has been successfully applied to laboratory- and field-scale tests, here we address the new issue of scale that arises when extending the method to a basin. Specifically, we apply the hydraulic tomography (HT) concept to jointly interpret four multiwell aquifer tests in a synthetic basin to illustrate the superiority of this approach to a more traditional Theis analysis of the same tests. Transmissivity and storativity are estimated for each element of a regional numerical model using the geostatistically based sequential successive linear estimator (SSLE) inverse solution method. We find that HT inversion is an effective strategy for incorporating data from potentially disparate aquifer tests into a basin-wide aquifer property estimate. The robustness of the SSLE algorithm is investigated by considering the effects of noisy observations, changing the variance of the true aquifer parameters, and supplying incorrect initial and boundary conditions to the inverse model. Ground water flow velocities and total confined storage are used as metrics to compare true and estimated parameter fields; they quantify the effectiveness of HT and SSLE compared to a Theis solution methodology. We discuss alternative software that can be used for implementing tomography inversion.