A statistical approach to the inverse problem of aquifer hydrology: 1. Theory

Shlomo P. Neuman, Sidney Yakowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


A new statistically based approach to the problem of estimating spatially varying aquifer transmissivities on the basis of steady state water level data is presented. The method involves solving a family of generalized nonlinear regression problems and then selecting one particular solution from this family by means of a comparative analysis of residuals. A linearized error analysis of the solution is included. This analysis allows one to estimate the covariance of the transmissivity estimates as well as the square error of the estimates of hydraulic head. In addition to the explicitly statistical orientation of the method, it has an additional feature of permitting the user to incorporate a priori information about the transmissivities. This information may be based on actual field data such as pumping tests, or on statistical data accumulated from similar aquifers elsewhere in the world. A highly efficient explicit numerical scheme for solving the inverse problem in an approximate manner when errors in water level data are sufficiently small is also described. When these errors are large, the explicit scheme may still be useful for obtaining a rapid initial idea about the approximate location of the optimum solution. Paper 1 presents the theory and illustrates it by a theoretical example. The purpose of this example is to demonstrate the effectiveness of our method in dealing with noisy data obtained from a known model. Application of the method to real data will be described in paper 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-860
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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