Various investigators have proposed hydraulic tomography, the simultaneous analysis of responses to multiple well tests, as a means to obtain a high-resolution characterization of aquifer flow properties. This study assesses the information content of drawdown records from a set of tomographic pumping tests in an alluvial aquifer, comparing the parameter sensitivity and resolution associated with transient and steady-shape formulations of the objective function for the parameter estimation problem. The steady-shape approach takes advantage of the rapid establishment of constant gradients within the region surrounding a pumping well, comparing observed drawdown differences within this region with drawdown differences predicted by a steady state model. Both the transient and steady-shape approaches resolve K variations only within a limited distance of the pumping intervals and observation points. Relative to the transient approach, the steady-shape approach reduces the influence of poorly resolved property variations, including K variations outside the region of investigation and storage coefficient variations throughout the model domain. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Sensitivity and resolution of tomographic pumping tests in an alluvial aquifer