The word “model’” has a wide range of use and perceived definition, ranging from a general depiction of the subsurface to highly involved numerical finite difference algorithms. The purpose of this presentation is to communicate a deeper understanding of environmental models, particularly groundwater models, in order to enhance technical competence, project execution, and innovation.
There are a multitude of software solutions and techniques for analyzing data in the highly complicated field of groundwater and environmental consulting. These range from statistical analyses, visual representations, geospatial analysis, and mathematical algorithms. There are particular differences in models based on physical law and/or empirical relationships compared to non-physically based models. Often, a project team or client sets forth a mission to “model” a site with a defined objective in mind, but without an understanding of the highly varied field of “modeling.” This presentation defines and explains a variety of non-mathematical and mathematical models to help practitioners, technical teams and project managers make decisions on how to best analyze and represent site data. Approach to applying models to site examples is demonstrated. A detailed discussion regarding the differences between analytical and numerical models is provided, in context with the importance of governing equations and of boundary conditions. Fundamentals to the process are clearly explained, including model workflow, calibration and sensitivity analysis.
The use of the term “model” has a wide variety of applications, therefore site specific models should be selected, built, and applied depending on project needs and data availability. The presentation provides a thorough discussion regarding the use groundwater models and differentiates between the variety of algorithms used in hydrogeology and site remediation. The discussion and perspective is valuable to all team members engaging in groundwater decisions.
Jim Schuetz is a Principal Hydrogeologist with Parsons specializing in groundwater modeling, bioremediation, and complicated geological environments. His extensive knowledge of field applications, numerical / analytical expertise, and fundamental geologic knowledge provides a unique skill set. Jim has been with Parsons for 13 years. Prior to joining Parsons, his master’s degree work involved 3-D numerical groundwater flow modeling, and he worked as an exploration geologist in Greenland and Africa.