Inherent Limitations of Hydraulic Tomography

Ground Water
By:  and 



We offer a cautionary note in response to an increasing level of enthusiasm regarding high-resolution aquifer characterization with hydraulic tomography. We use synthetic examples based on two recent field experiments to demonstrate that a high degree of nonuniqueness remains in estimates of hydraulic parameter fields even when those estimates are based on simultaneous analysis of a number of carefully controlled hydraulic tests. We must, therefore, be careful not to oversell the technique to the community of practicing hydrogeologists, promising a degree of accuracy and resolution that, in many settings, will remain unattainable, regardless of the amount of effort invested in the field investigation. No practically feasible amount of hydraulic tomography data will ever remove the need to regularize or bias the inverse problem in some fashion in order to obtain a unique solution. Thus, along with improving the resolution of hydraulic tomography techniques, we must also strive to couple those techniques with procedures for experimental design and uncertainty assessment and with other more cost-effective field methods, such as geophysical surveying and, in unconsolidated formations, direct-push profiling, in order to develop methods for subsurface characterization with the resolution and accuracy needed for practical field applications. Copyright ?? 2010 The Author(s). Journal compilation ?? 2010 National Ground Water Association.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Inherent Limitations of Hydraulic Tomography
Series title Ground Water
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2010.00757.x
Volume 48
Issue 6
Year Published 2010
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ground Water
First page 809
Last page 824
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