Analysis of karst aquifer spring flows with a gray system decomposition model

Yonghong Hao, Tian Chyi J. Yeh, Yanrong Wang, Ying Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


There are ∼470,000 km2 of karst aquifers that feed many large springs in North China. Turbulent flow often exists in these karst aquifers, which means that the classical ground water model based on Darcy's law cannot be applied here. Ground water data are rare for these aquifers. As a consequence, it is difficult to quantitatively investigate ground water flow in these karst systems. The purpose of this study is to develop a parsimonious model that predicts karst spring discharge using gray system theory. In this theory, a white color denotes a system that is completely characterized and a black color represents a system that is totally unknown. A gray system thus describes a complex system whose characteristics are only partially known or known with uncertainty. Using this theory, we investigated the karst spring discharge time series over different time scales. First, we identified three specific components of spring discharge: the long-term trend, periodic variation, and random fluctuation. We then used the gray system model to simulate the long-term trend and obtain periodic variation and random fluctuation components. Subsequently, we developed a predictive model for karst spring discharge. Application of the model to Liulin Springs, a representative example of karst springs in northern China, shows that the model performs well. The predicted results suggest that the Liulin Springs discharge will likely decrease over time, with small fluctuations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalGround water
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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