The Analytic Element Method for rectangular gridded domains, benchmark comparisons and application to the High Plains Aquifer



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Groundwater studies face computational limitations when providing local detail (such as well drawdown) within regional models. We adapt the Analytic Element Method (AEM) to extend separation of variable solutions for a rectangle to domains composed of multiple interconnected rectangular elements. Each rectangle contains a series solution that satisfies the governing equations and coefficients are adjusted to match boundary conditions at the edge of the domain and continuity conditions across adjacent rectangles. A complete mathematical implementation is presented including matrices to solve boundary and continuity conditions. This approach gathers the mathematical functions associated with head and velocity within a small set of functions for each rectangle, enabling fast computation of these variables. Benchmark studies verify that conservation of mass and energy conditions are accurately satisfied using a method of images solution, and also develop a solution for heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity with log normal distribution. A case study illustrates that the methods are capable of modeling local detail within a large-scale regional model of the High Plains Aquifer in the central USA and reports the numerical costs associated with increasing resolution, where use is made of GIS datasets for thousands of rectangular elements each with unique geologic and hydrologic properties, Methods are applicable to interconnected rectangular domains in other fields of study such as heat conduction, electrical conduction, and unsaturated groundwater flow.



Analytic Element Method, Separation of variables, Laplace equation, Groundwater, Heterogeneity, High Plains Aquifer