A neural network model for predicting aquifer water level elevations

Emery A. Coppola, Anthony J. Rana, Mary M. Poulton, Ferenc Szidarovszky, Vincent W. Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Artificial neural networks (ANNs) were developed for accurately predicting potentiometric surface elevations (monitoring well water level elevations) in a semiconfined glacial sand and gravel aquifer under variable state, pumping extraction, and climate conditions. ANNs "learn" the system behavior of interest by processing representative data patterns through a mathematical structure analogous to the human brain. In this study, the ANNs used the initial water level measurements, production well extractions, and climate conditions to predict the final water level elevations 30 d into the future at two monitoring wells. A sensitivity analysis was conducted with the ANNs that quantified the importance of the various input predictor variables on final water level elevations. Unlike traditional physical-based models, ANNs do not require explicit characterization of the physical system and related physical data. Accordingly, ANN predictions were made on the basis of more easily quantifiable, measured variables, rather than physical model input parameters and conditions. This study demonstrates that ANNs can provide both excellent prediction capability and valuable sensitivity analyses, which can result in more appropriate ground water management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalGround water
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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