Groundwater Flow Determination Using an Interval Parameter Perturbation Method Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Groundwater flow simulation often inevitably involves uncertainty, which has been quantified by a host of methods including stochastic methods and statistical methods. Stochastic methods and statistical methods face great difficulties in applications. One of such difficulties is that the statistical characteristics of random variables (such as mean, variance, covariance, etc.) must be firstly obtained before the stochastic methods can be applied. The dilemma is that one is often unclear about such statistical characteristics, given the limited available data. To overcome the problems met by stochastic methods, this study provides an innovative approach in which the hydrogeological parameters and sources and sinks of groundwater flow are represented by bounded but uncertain intervals of variables called interval of uncertainty variables (IUVs) and this approach is namely the interval uncertain method (IUM). IUM requires only the maximum and minimum values of the variable. By utilizing the natural interval expansion, an interval-based parametric groundwater flow equation is established, and the solution of that equation can be found. Using a hypothetical steady-state flow case as an example, one can see that when the rate of change is less than 0.2, the relative error of this method is generally limited to less than 5%; when the rate of change is less than 0.3, the relative error of this method can be kept within 10%. This research shows that the proposed method has smaller relative errors and higher computational efficiency than the Monte Carlo methods. It is possible to use this method to analyze the uncertainties of groundwater flow when it is difficult to obtain the statistical characteristics of the hydrogeological systems. The proposed method is applicable in linear groundwater flow system. Its validity in nonlinear flow systems such as variably saturated flow or unconfined flow with considerable variation of water table will be checked in the future.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Dong, G., Tian, J., Zhan, H., & Liu, R.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Dong, Guiming||Tian, Juan||Zhan, Hongbin||Liu, Rengyang

publication date

  • January 1, 2017 11:11 AM