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Groundwater age (or residence time), as estimated on the basis of concentrations of one or more environmental tracers, can provide a useful and independent calibration target for groundwater models. However, concentrations of environmental tracers are affected by the complexities and mixing inherent in groundwater flow through heterogeneous media, especially in the presence of pumping wells. An analysis of flow and age distribution in the Madison aquifer in South Dakota, USA, illustrates the additional benefits and difficulties of using age as a calibration target. Alternative numerical approaches to estimating travel time and age with backward particle tracking are assessed, and the resulting estimates are used to refine estimates of effective porosity and to help assess the adequacy and credibility of the flow model.
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The use of groundwater age as a calibration target
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International Conference on Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modelling: Credibility of Modelling, M