Elements of complexity in subsurface modeling, exemplified with three case studies

Elements of complexity in subsurface modeling, exemplified with three case studies There are complexity elements to consider when applying subsurface flow and transport models to support environmental analyses. Modelers balance the benefits and costs of modeling along the spectrum of complexity, taking into account the attributes of more simple models (e.g., lower cost, faster execution, easier to explain, less mechanistic) and the attributes of more complex models (higher cost, slower execution, harder to explain, more mechanistic and technically defensible). In this report, modeling complexity is examined with respect to considering this balance. The discussion of modeling complexity is organized into three primary elements: (1) modeling approach, (2) description of process, and (3) description of heterogeneity. Three examples are used to examine these complexity elements. Two of the examples use simulations generated from a complex model to develop simpler models for efficient use in model applications. The first example is designed to support performance evaluation of soil-vapor-extraction remediation in terms of groundwater protection. The second example investigates the importance of simulating different categories of geochemical reactions for carbon sequestration and selecting appropriate simplifications for use in evaluating sequestration scenarios. In the third example, the modeling history for a uranium-contaminated site demonstrates that conservative parameter estimates were inadequate surrogates for complex, critical processes and there is discussion on the selection of more appropriate model complexity for this application. All three examples highlight how complexity considerations are essential to create scientifically defensible models that achieve a balance between model simplification and complexity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hydrogeology Journal Springer Journals

Elements of complexity in subsurface modeling, exemplified with three case studies

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Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Subject
Earth Sciences; Hydrogeology; Hydrology/Water Resources; Geology; Water Quality/Water Pollution; Geophysics/Geodesy; Waste Water Technology / Water Pollution Control / Water Management / Aquatic Pollution
ISSN
1431-2174
eISSN
1435-0157
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10040-017-1564-6
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

There are complexity elements to consider when applying subsurface flow and transport models to support environmental analyses. Modelers balance the benefits and costs of modeling along the spectrum of complexity, taking into account the attributes of more simple models (e.g., lower cost, faster execution, easier to explain, less mechanistic) and the attributes of more complex models (higher cost, slower execution, harder to explain, more mechanistic and technically defensible). In this report, modeling complexity is examined with respect to considering this balance. The discussion of modeling complexity is organized into three primary elements: (1) modeling approach, (2) description of process, and (3) description of heterogeneity. Three examples are used to examine these complexity elements. Two of the examples use simulations generated from a complex model to develop simpler models for efficient use in model applications. The first example is designed to support performance evaluation of soil-vapor-extraction remediation in terms of groundwater protection. The second example investigates the importance of simulating different categories of geochemical reactions for carbon sequestration and selecting appropriate simplifications for use in evaluating sequestration scenarios. In the third example, the modeling history for a uranium-contaminated site demonstrates that conservative parameter estimates were inadequate surrogates for complex, critical processes and there is discussion on the selection of more appropriate model complexity for this application. All three examples highlight how complexity considerations are essential to create scientifically defensible models that achieve a balance between model simplification and complexity.

Journal

Hydrogeology JournalSpringer Journals

Published: Apr 3, 2017

References

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