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Estimation of hydraulic conductivity in a watershed using sparse multi-source data via Gaussian process regression and Bayesian experimental design

by Chien-yung Tseng, Maryam Ghadiri, Praveen Kumar, Hadi Meidani
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Advances in Water Resources
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Enhanced water management systems depend on accurate estimation of subsurface hydraulic properties. However, geologic formations can vary significantly, so information from a single source (e.g., widely spaced boreholes) is insufficient in characterizing subsurface aquifer properties. Therefore, multiple sources of information are needed to complement the hydrogeology understanding of a region. This study presents a numerical framework in which information from different measurement sources is combined to characterize the 3D random field in a multi-fidelity prediction model. Coupled with the model, a Bayesian experimental design was used to determine the best future sampling locations. The Upper Sangamon watershed in east-central Illinois was selected as the case study site, where the multi-fidelity Gaussian process model was used to estimate the hydraulic conductivity in the region of interest. Multi-source observation data were obtained from electrical resistivity and borehole pumping tests. The accuracy of the model prediction is dependent on the locations and the distribution of both high- and low-fidelity data. Furthermore, the multi-fidelity model was compared with the single-fidelity model. The uncertainties and confidence in the measurements and parameter estimates were quantified and used to design future cycles of data collection to further improve the confidence intervals.