Analytic element modeling of the High Plains Aquifer: non-linear model optimization using Levenberg-Marquardt and particle swarm algorithms



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Kansas State University


Accurate modeling of the High Plains Aquifer depends on the availability of good data that represents and quantities properties and processes occurring within the aquifer. Thanks to many previous studies there is a wealth of good data available for the High Plains Aquifer but one key component, groundwater-surface water interaction locations and rates, is generally missing. Without these values accurate modeling of the High Plains Aquifer is very difficult to achieve. This thesis presents methods for simplifying the modeling of the High Plains Aquifer using a sloping base method and then applying mathematical optimization techniques to locate and quantify points of groundwater-surface water interaction. The High Plains Aquifer has a base that slopes gently from west to east and is approximated using a one-dimensional stepping base model. The model was run under steady-state predevelopment conditions using readily available GIS data representing aquifer properties such as hydraulic conductivity, bedrock elevation, recharge, and the predevelopment water level. The Levenberg-Marquardt and particle swarm algorithms were implemented to minimize error in the model. The algorithms reduced model error by finding locations in the aquifer of potential groundwater-surface water interaction and then determining the rate of groundwater to surface water exchange at those points that allowed for the best match between the measured predevelopment water level and the simulated water level. Results from the model indicate that groundwater-surface water interaction plays an important role in the overall water balance in the High Plains Aquifer. Findings from the model show strong groundwater-surface water interaction occurring in the northern basin of the aquifer where the water table is relatively shallow and there are many surface water features. In the central and southern basins the interaction is primarily limited to river valleys. Most rivers have baseflow that is a net sink from groundwater.



Ogallala aquifer, High plains aquifer, Particle swarm optimization, Levenberg-marquardt, Groundwater-surface water interaction, Sloping base

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Master of Science


Department of Civil Engineering

Major Professor

David R. Steward