National Research Program


Modeling and uncertainty of complex ground-water systems

A fundamental problem in the analysis of complex ground-water systems is the interplay of data and modeling, both when testing fundamental theories and when calibrating models. Improving how data and models are used has proven to be exceedingly difficult, however, partly because models have been badly misused. One of the most difficult problems is that ground-water model calibration methods used frequently lack any rigorous method of relating models to the calibration data and the predictions of interest, and numerical problems and limitations of forward models exacerbate the problem. Also, the geometry of interconnections and barriers critical to defining ground-water flow are often grossly in error, leading to errors in estimated parameter values, which in turn obscures the ability to derive any general understanding of processes from a set of studies. Also see project home page

Project objectives are to:

  1. Improve forward ground-water modeling capabilities to resolve existing numerical problems and limitations that prohibit accurate simulation of realistic situations. For example, improve the methods used to represent in detail small areas of large-scale models.
  2. Develop inverse modeling methods to make this technology more readily accessible and to resolve remaining difficulties such as the estimation of insensitive parameters.
  3. Investigate constraining models using more sophisticated geologic data and analyses.
  4. Use the insight provided by inverse models to develop data collection techniques, design and interpret laboratory experiments, and evaluate the importance of geologic structures and principles, especially as they interact with microbial processes.
  5. Devise methods for quantifying model uncertainty using both inferential and Monte Carlo approaches.

REPORTS PUBLISHED 2003-2012

Vilhelmsen, T.N., Christensen, S., and Mehl, S.W., 2012 (web publication 5/25/11), Evaluation of MODFLOW-LGR in connection with a synthetic regional-scale model: Ground Water, v. 50, no. 1, p. 118-132. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Abesser, C., Nützmann, G., Hill, M.C., Blöschl, G., Lakshmanan, E., eds., 2011, Conceptual and Modelling Studies of Integrated Groundwater, Surface Water, and Ecological Systems: International Association of Hydrological Sciences Publication 345, 274 p.

Dickinson, J.E., Hanson, R.T., Mehl, S.W., and Hill, M.C., 2011, MODPATH-LGR; documentation of a computer program for particle tracking in shared-node locally refined grids by using MODFLOW-LGR: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-A38, 42 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 2.4 MB)

Faunt, C.C., Provost, A.M., Hill, M.C., and Belcher, W.R., 2011, 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, v. 397, no. 3-4, p. 306-309. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Hill, M.C. and Nolan, B.T., 2011, Sensitivity analysis for inverse problems solved by singular value decomposition (SVD), in Poeter, E.P, Hill, M.C., Zheng, C. and Maxwell, R., eds., MODFLOW and More 2011: Integrated Hydrologic Modeling Conference Proceedings, June 5-8, 2011, Golden, Colorado.

Lu, Dan, Hill, M.C., and Ye, Ming, 2011, Analysis of Regression and Bayesian Predictive Uncertainty Measures, in Poeter, E.P, Hill, M.C., Zheng, C. and Maxwell, R., eds., MODFLOW and More 2011: Integrated Hydrologic Modeling Conference Proceedings, June 5-8, 2011, Golden, Colorado.

Mehl, S.W., and Hill, M.C., 2011, MODFLOW-LGR-Modifications to the streamflow-routing package (SFR2) to route streamflow through locally refined grid: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-A34, 19 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 592 KB)

Metge, D.W., Harvey, R.W., Aiken, G.R., Anders, R., Lincoln, G., Jasperse, J., and Hill, M.C., 2011, Effects of sediment-associated extractable metals, degree of sediment grain sorting, and dissolved organic carbon upon Cryptosporidium parvum removal and transport within riverbank filtration sediments, Sonoma County, California: Environmental Sciences and Technology, v. 45, no. 13, p. 5587-5595. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Raymond, K., Arabi, M. and Hill, M.C., 2011, Comprehensive Flow and Transport Groundwater/Watershed Modeling Using eRAMS: Overview of the Integrated Framework ), in Poeter, E.P, Hill, M.C., Zheng, C. and Maxwell, R., eds., MODFLOW and More 2011: Integrated Hydrologic Modeling Conference Proceedings, June 5-8, 2011, Golden, Colorado.

Wang, Yanxin, Ge, S., Hill, M.C., and Zheng, C., eds, 2011, Calibration and reliability in groundwater modeling, Managing groundwater and the environment: IAHS Publication 341, 274p. (on-line book information)

Foglia, L., Hill, M.C., Mehl, S.W., Perona, P., and Burlando, P., 2010, Identifying important observations using cross validation and computationally frugal sensitivity analysis methods: Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, v. 2, no. 6, p. 7650-7651. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Hill, M.C. , 2010, Comment on "Two statistics for evaluating parameter identifiability and error reduction" by John Doherty and Randall J. Hunt: Journal of Hydrology, v. 380, no. 3-4, 30 p. 481-488. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Hill, M.C., Poeter, E., and Zheng, C., 2010, Foreword: Groundwater modeling and public policy: Ground Water, v. 48, no. 5, p. 625-626.

Mehl, S., and Hill, M.C., 2010, Grid-size dependence of Cauchy boundary conditions used to simulate stream-aquifer interactions: Advances in Water Resources, v. 33, no. 4, p. 430-442 . doi:10.1016/j.advwatres.2010.01.008 (on-line abstract of journal article)

Foglia, L., Hill, M.C., Mehl, S.W., and Burlando, P., 2009, Sensitivity analysis, calibration, and testing of a distributed hydrological model using error-based weighting and one objective function: Water Resources Research, v. 45, W06427, doi:10.1029/2008WR007255 (on-line abstract of journal article)

Wellman, T.P., Shapiro, A.M., and Hill, M.C., 2009, Effects of Simplifying Fracture Network Representation on Inert Chemical Migration in Fracture-Controlled Aquifers: Water Resources Research, v. 45, W01416, doi:10.1029/2008WR007025. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Banta, E.R., Hill, M.C., Poeter, E.P., Doherty, J.E., and Babendreier, J., 2008, Building model analysis applications with the joint universal parameter identification and evaluation of reliability application programming interface (JUPITER API): Computers and Geoscience, v. 34, no. 4, p. 310-319. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Dickinson, J.E., James, S.C., Mehl, S.W., Hill, M.C., Leake, S.A., Zyvoloski, G.A., Faunt, C.C., and Eddebbarh, A.A., 2007, New ghost-node method for linking different models with varied grid refinement: Advances in Water Resources, v. 30, no. 8, p. 1722-1736. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Foglia, L., Mehl, S.W., Hill, M.C., Perona, P., and Burlando, P., 2007, Testing alternative ground water models using cross validation and other methods: Ground Water, v. 45, no. 5, p. 627-641, doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2007.00341.x. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Hill, M.C., and Tiedeman, C.R., 2007, Effective Groundwater Model Calibration: With Analysis of Data, Sensitivities, Predictions, and Uncertainty: Wiley and Sons, 464 p. (on-line book information)

Mehl, S., 2007, Forward model nonlinearity versus inverse model nonlinearity: Ground Water, v. p. 791–794. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 110 KB, published by American Ground Water Association, no claim to original U.S. Government works)

Mehl, S.W., and Hill, M.C., 2007, MODFLOW-2005, The U.S. Geological Survey modular ground-water model—Documentation of the multiple-refined-areas capability of local grid refinement (LGR) and the boundary flow and head (BFH) package: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, Book 6, Chapter A21, 13 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 439 KB)

Poeter, E.P. and Hill, M.C., 2007, MMA, A Computer Code for Multi-Model Analysis, U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-E3. (on-line report in pdf format)

Tiedeman, C.R. and Hill. M.C., 2007, Model calibration and issues related to validation, sensitivity analysis, post-audit, uncertainty evaluation, and assessment of prediction data needs, in Thangarajan, M., ed., Groundwater: Berlin, Springer, p. 237-282. (originally published in 2006 in Thangarajan, M., Groundwater: Resource Evaluation, Augmentation, Contamination, Restoration, Modeling and Management: Capital Publishing, New Delhi, Chapt. 9.)

Tonkin, M.J., Tiedeman C.R., Ely D.M., and Hill M.C., 2007, OPR-PPR, a computer program for assessing data importance to model predictions using linear statistics: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods Report, book 6, chapt. E2, 115 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 1.2 MB)

Banta, E.R., Poeter, E.P., Doherty, J.E., and Hill, M.C., eds., 2006, JUPITER: Joint Universal Parameter IdenTification and Evaluation of Reliability - An Application Programming Interface (API) for Model Analysis: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, Book 6, Chapt. E1, 268 p. (on-line abstract or on-line publication in pdf format, 2182 KB)

Blainey, J.B., Faunt, C.C., and Hill, M.C., 2006, A guide for using the transient ground-water flow model of the Death Valley regional ground-water flow system, Nevada and California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1104, 36 p. (on-line report in pdf format, 1.3 MB)

Belcher, W. R.; Faunt, C. C.; Sweetkind, D. S.; Blainey, J. B.; San Juan, C. A.; Laczniak, R. J.; Hill, M. C., 2006, Ground-Water Modeling of the Death Valley Region, Nevada and California: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2006-3120, 6 p. (on-line abstract or on-line fact sheet in pdf format, 10MB)

Hill, M.C., 2006, The Practical Use of Simplicity in Developing Ground Water Models: Ground Water, v. 44, no. 6, p. 775-781. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 241 KB)

Hill, M.C., Barlebo, H.C., and Rosbjerg, D., 2006, Reply to Comment on "Investigating the Macrodispersion Experiment (MADE) site in Columbus, Mississippi, using a three-dimensional inverse flow and transport model" by Fred J. Molz, Chunmiao Zheng, Steven M. Gorelick, and Charles F. Harvey: Water Resources Research, v. 42, W06604, doi:10.1029/2005WR004624.

James, S.C., Dickinson, J.E.,. Mehl, S.W., Hill, M.C., Leake, S.A., Zyvoloski, G.A., and Eddebbarh, A.-A., 2006, New ghost node method for linking different models with varied grid refinement: Proceedings of MODFLOW and More - Managing Ground-Water Systems, v. 2, p. 710-714.

Mehl, S., 2006, Use of Picard and Newton iteration for solving nonlinear ground water flow equations: Ground Water, v. 44, no, 4, Page 583-594. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Mehl, S., Hill, M.C., and Leake, S.A., 2006, Comparison of local grid refinement methods for MODFLOW: Ground Water, v. 44, no. 6, p. 792-796. (on-line abstract or on-line jourrnal article in pdf format, 198 KB)

Poeter, E., Hill, M.C. Zheng, C., eds., 2006, Managing Ground-Water Systems: Proceedings, International Ground Water Modeling Center, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO.

Zheng, C., Poeter, E., Hill, M.C., and Doherty, J., 2006, Foreword to special issue -- Understanding through modeling: Ground Water, v. 44, p. 769-770. (on-line forward in pdf format, 45 KB)

Barth, G.R., and Hill, M.C., 2005, Parameter and observation importance in modeling virus transport in saturated systems - Investigations in a homogeneous system: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 80, no. 3-4, p. 107-129. (on-line abstract)

Barth, G.R., and Hill, M.C., 2005, Numerical methods for improving sensitivity analysis and parameter estimation of virus transport simulated using sorptive-reactive processes: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 76, p. 251-277. (on-line abstract)

Mehl S.W., and Hill, M.C., 2005, MODFLOW-2005, the U.S. Geological Survey modular ground-water model - documentation of shared node local grid refinement (LGR) and the boundary flow and head (BFH) package:U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-A12, 78 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 1 MB)

Poeter, E.E., Hill, M.C., Banta, E.R., Mehl, S., Christensen, S., 2005, UCODE_2005 and six other computer codes for universal sensitivity analysis, calibration, and uncertainty evaluation constructed using the JUPITER API: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-A11, 299 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 2.6 MB)

Barlebo, H.C., Hill, M.C., and Rosbjerg, D., 2004, Identification of groundwater parameters at Columbus, Mississippi using three-dimensional inverse flow and transport model: Water Resources Research, v. 40, no. 4. (on-line abstract)

Faunt, C.C., Blainey, J.B., Hill, M.C., D'Agnese, F.A., and O'Brien, G.A., 2004, Transient numerical model of ground-water flow, in Belcher, W. ed., Evaluation of the Death Valley regional ground-water flow system (DVRFS), Nevada and California: U.S Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5205, chapt. F, p. 2565-362. (on-line chapter in pdf format, 30.8 MB. and on-line plate "Simulated ground-water response to pumping in the Death Valley regional ground-water flow system area, Nevada and California", in pdf format, 12.8 MB)

Hill. M.C.,and Leavesley, G.H., 2004, USGS overview of research activities for evaluating uncertainty, in Nicholson, T.J., Babendreier, J.E., Meyer, P.D., Mohanty, S., Hicks, B.B., and Leavesley, G.H., eds., 2004, Proceedings of the International Workshop on Uncertainty, Sensitivity, and Parameter Estimation for Multimedia Environmenal Modeling, August 19-21, 2003: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission CP-0187, US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center SR-04-2, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 600/R-04/117, p. 19-20.

Hill, M.C., Middlemis, H., Hulme, P., Poeter, E., Riegger, J., Neuman, S.P., Williams, H., Anderson, M., 2004, Brief overview of selected groundwater modeling guidelines, in Kovar, K., and Hrkal, Z., eds., Finite-Element Models, MODFLOW, and More 2004 - solving Ground Water Problems 2004 [Proceedings, September 13-16, 2004]: Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, p. 105-120.

Mehl S.W., and Hill, M.C., 2004, Three-dimensional local grid refinement for block-centered finite-difference groundwater models using iteratively coupled shared nodes: Advances in Water Resources, v. 27, no. 9, p. 899-912 . (on-line summary plus)

Tiedeman, C.R., Ely, D.M., Hill, M.C., and O'Brien, G.M., 2004, A method for evaluating the importance of system state observations to model predictions, with application to the Death Valley regional groundwater flow system: Water Resources Research, v.40, no, 12, doi:10.1029/2004WR003313 (on-line abstract)

Tiedeman, C.R., and Hill, M.C., 2004, Using sensitivity analysis in model calibration efforts, Proceedings of the International Workshop in Uncertainty, Sensitivity, and Parameter Estimation for Multimedia Environmental Modeling, August 19-21 2003: U.S. NRC Publication NUREG/CP-0187, p. 53-56.

Anderman, E.R. and Hill, M.C., 2003, MODFLOW-2000, the U.S. Geological Survey modular ground-water model -- Three additions to the Hydrogeologic-Unit Flow (HUF) Package: alternative storage for the uppermost active cells (SYTP parameter type), flows in hydrogeologic units, and the Hydraulic-Conductivity Depth-Dependence (KDEP) capability: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-347, 36p. (on-line report in pdf format - 423K)

Anderman, E.R and Hill, M.C., 2003, Detailed evaluation of particle tracking in hydrogeologic units, in Poeter, E.P, Zheng, C., Hill, M.C. and Doherty, J., eds. Proceedings, MODFLOW and more 2003, Understanding through Modeling: Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, September 16-19, 2003, p. 94-98.

Anderman, E.R, Kipp, K., Hill, M.C., Valstar, J., and Neupauer, R., 2003, Model-layer Variable-Direction Horizontal Anisotropy (LVDA) capability in MODFLOW-2000, in eds, Poeter, E.P, Zheng, C., Hill, M.C. and Doherty, John, Proceedings, MODFLOW and more 2003, Understanding through Modeling: Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, September 16-19, 2003, p. 42-46.

Hill, M.C., 2003, The practical use of simplicity in developing ground-water models, in eds, Poeter, E.P, Zheng, C., Hill, M.C. and Doherty, John, Proceedings, MODFLOW and more 2003, Understanding through Modeling: Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, September 16-19, 2003, Featured presentation, p. 11-15.

Hill, M.C. and Østerby, O., 2003, Determining extreme parameter correlation in ground-water models: Ground Water, v. 41, no. 4, p. 420-430. (on-line abstract)

Hill, M.C., Poeter, E., Zheng, C., and Doherty, J., 2003, MODFLOW 2001 and Other Modeling Odysseys [editiorial]: Ground Water, v. 41, no. 2, p. 113.

Hill, M.C. and Tiedeman, C.R, 2003, Weighting observations in the context of calibrating ground-water models, in Karel Kovar, and Hrkal Zbynek, eds., Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modelling, A few steps closer to reality: IAHS Publication 277, p. 196-203. (on-line abstract)

Mehl, S.W. and Hill, M.C., 2003, Locally refined block-centered finite-difference groundwater models: Evaluation of parameter sensitivity and the consequences for inverse modelling and predictions, in Karel Kovar, and Hrkal Zbynek, eds., Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modelling, A few steps closer to reality: IAHS Publication 277, p. 227-232. (on-line abstract)

Mehl, S. and Hill, M.C., 2003, Local grid refinement for MODFLOW-2000, The good, the bad, and the ugly, in Poeter, E.P, Zheng, C., Hill, M.C. and Doherty, J., eds., Proceedings, MODFLOW and more 2003, Understanding through Modeling: Golden, CO, Colorado School of Mines, September 16-19, 2003, p. 55-59.

Tiedeman, C.R., Hill, M.C., D'Agenses, F.A., and Faunt, C.C., 2003, Methods for using ground-water model predictions to guide hydrogeologic data collection with application to the Death Valley regional groundwater flow system: Water Resources Research, v. 39, no. 1, p. 5-1 to 5-17. (on-line abstract)

Tonkin, M.J, Hill, M.C., and Doherty, J., 2003, MODFLOW-2000, the U.S. Geological Survey modular ground-water model -- Documentation of MOD-PREDICT for predictions, prediction sensitivity analysis, and enhanced analysis if model fit: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report Open-File Report 03-385, 69p.


FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS PROJECT, CONTACT:
Mary C. Hill
U.S. Geological Survey, 3215 Marine St. Boulder, CO 80303
Email: mchill@usgs.gov
Telephone: 303-541-3014

For information on additional projects in the National Research Program, see Indexes to NRP projects and bibliographies.

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