Comment on “An unconfined groundwater model of the Death Valley Regional Flow System and a comparison to its confined predecessor” by R.W.H. Carroll, G.M. Pohll and R.L. Hershey [Journal of Hydrology 373/3–4, pp. 316–328]

Journal of Hydrology
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Abstract

Carroll et al. (2009) state that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Death Valley Regional Flow System (DVRFS) model, which is based on MODFLOW, is “conceptually inaccurate in that it models an unconfined aquifer as a confined system and does not simulate unconfined drawdown in transient pumping simulations.” Carroll et al. (2009) claim that “more realistic estimates of water availability” can be produced by a SURFACT-based model of the DVRFS that simulates unconfined groundwater flow and limits withdrawals from wells to avoid excessive drawdown. Differences in results from the original MODFLOW-based model and the SURFACT-based model stem primarily from application by Carroll et al. (2009) of head limits that can also be applied using the existing MODLOW model and not from any substantial difference in the accuracy with which the unconfined aquifer is represented in the two models. In a hypothetical 50-year predictive simulation presented by Carroll et al. (2009), large differences between the models are shown when simulating pumping from the lower clastic confining unit, where the transmissivity is nearly two orders of magnitude less than in an alluvial aquifer. Yet even for this extreme example, drawdowns and pumping rates from the MODFLOW and SURFACT models are similar when the head-limit capabilities of the MODFLOW MNW Package are applied. These similarities persist despite possible discrepancies between assigned hydraulic properties. The resulting comparison between the MODFLOW and SURFACT models of the DVRFS suggests that approximating the unconfined system in the DVRFS as a constant-saturated-thickness system (called a “confined system” by Carroll et al., 2009) performs very well.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Comment on “An unconfined groundwater model of the Death Valley Regional Flow System and a comparison to its confined predecessor” by R.W.H. Carroll, G.M. Pohll and R.L. Hershey [Journal of Hydrology 373/3–4, pp. 316–328]
Series title Journal of Hydrology
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.11.038
Volume 397
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Hydrology
First page 306
Last page 309
Country United States
Other Geospatial Death Valley
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