Geological Research at the IGS
  

Three-dimensional groundwater modeling in Berrien County, Michigan

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Sep 1, 2003 Sep 1, 2007 Outside Indiana
Director: Sally Letsinger
Other Researchers: Cristian Medina, Greg Olyphant, Byron Stone (USGS), Kevin Spindler, David Lampe, Tae Hong Kim
Funding: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition
Issue: Three-dimensional representations of complex unconsolidated subsurface geology are often constructed for input into ground-water flow models. The complexity of the geological relationships is difficult to realistically represent; therefore, the models are often oversimplifications of actual conditions. However, it is not known whether three-dimensional representations generated by mapping experts or statistical data interpolations of complex geological conditions are preferable for the purpose of simulating ground-water flow through such materials.
Objective: The objective of this project is to scientifically assess the performance of three-dimensional hydrogeologic models developed by pure statistical data interpolation and three-dimensional hydrogeologic models developed by experienced geologists familiar with the emplacement mechanisms of geologic materials.
Approach: A hydrogeologic model will be developed for Berrien County, Michigan, using three-dimensional kriging algorithms from standardized lithologic descriptions in water-well logs. A separate hydrogeologic model will be developed by a U.S. Geological Survey geologist for the same area. After the 3-D models are constructed, hydraulic conductivity grids will be generated so that identical ground-water flow simulations can be conducted on the different geologic representations. The results will be compared statistically to complete the assessment.
Products: Two three-dimensional depictions of the subsurface geology of Berrien County, Michigan, will be developed. Ground-water flow simulations for each model will be produced. Statistical analyses and summaries will be available.
Benefits: This project has great potential to emphasize the advantages or disadvantages of different methods of developing hydrogeologic models to use in ground-water flow simulations. It is unknown if statistically accurate, but geologically blind, models can accurately represent ground-water flow. Conversely, bounding surfaces between geologic units might have controls on ground-water flow that are unexpected, but important, perhaps suggesting that geologic interpretations are critical components of developing subsurface representations of heterogeneous geologic materials.
Publications:

Dressing the emperor (groundwater-flow model) of glacial geology: A tale of three tailors.
Olyphant, G.A., Medina, C.R., Letsinger, S.L., 2006, Dressing the emperor (groundwater-flow model) of glacial geology: A tale of three tailors. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 38, no. 7, p. 108.

GIS-based potential recharge- and discharge-area mapping from three-dimensional hydrogeologic modeling in glacial terrains of the midwestern United States
Letsinger, S.L., and Olyphant, G.A., 2008, GIS-based potential recharge- and discharge-area mapping from three-dimensional hydrogeologic modeling in glacial terrains of the midwestern United States. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 40, no. 6, p. 472.

The role of GIS in the development of three-dimensional hydrogeologic models
Letsinger, S.L., Olyphant, G.A., Medina, C.R., 2006, The role of GIS in the development of three-dimensional hydrogeologic models. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 38, no. 7, p. 164.

The Role of three-dimensional information visualization software in the development of three-dimensional hydrogeologic models
Medina, C.R., Olyphant, G.A., Letsinger, S.L., 2006, The Role of three-dimensional information visualization software in the development of three-dimensional hydrogeologic models. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, vol. 38, no. 7, p. 164.


 
 
 
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