Ground water flow modeling with sensitivity analyses to guide field data collection in a mountain watershed

Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation



In mountain watersheds, the increased demand for clean water resources has led to an increased need for an understanding of ground water flow in alpine settings. In Prospect Gulch, located in southwestern Colorado, understanding the ground water flow system is an important first step in addressing metal loads from acid-mine drainage and acid-rock drainage in an area with historical mining. Ground water flow modeling with sensitivity analyses are presented as a general tool to guide future field data collection, which is applicable to any ground water study, including mountain watersheds. For a series of conceptual models, the observation and sensitivity capabilities of MODFLOW-2000 are used to determine composite scaled sensitivities, dimensionless scaled sensitivities, and 1% scaled sensitivity maps of hydraulic head. These sensitivities determine the most important input parameter(s) along with the location of observation data that are most useful for future model calibration. The results are generally independent of the conceptual model and indicate recharge in a high-elevation recharge zone as the most important parameter, followed by the hydraulic conductivities in all layers and recharge in the next lower-elevation zone. The most important observation data in determining these parameters are hydraulic heads at high elevations, with a depth of less than 100 m being adequate. Evaluation of a possible geologic structure with a different hydraulic conductivity than the surrounding bedrock indicates that ground water discharge to individual stream reaches has the potential to identify some of these structures. Results of these sensitivity analyses can be used to prioritize data collection in an effort to reduce time and money spend by collecting the most relevant model calibration data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ground water flow modeling with sensitivity analyses to guide field data collection in a mountain watershed
Series title Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6592.2006.00125.x
Volume 27
Issue 1
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher National Ground Water Association
Publisher location Dublin, OH
Description 9 p.
First page 75
Last page 83
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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