Potential of Hydraulic Tomography in Identifying Boundary Conditions of Groundwater Basins

Fei Liu, Tian Chyi Jim Yeh, Yu Li Wang, Xianfang Song, Xiaohui Lei, Jet Chau Wen, Wenke Wang, Yonghong Hao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study investigates the potential of hydraulic tomography (HT) in identifying the boundary conditions of groundwater basins using numerical experiments. The experiment mimics the scenario of groundwater exploitation reduction in a pilot area of groundwater overexploitation control in the North China Plain. In this study, we propose an approach that integrates the HT concept and readily available groundwater monitoring data to identify the constant head and impermeable boundaries by mapping anomalously high- and low-permeability zones from HT surveys in a large-scale domain that encompasses the true groundwater basin. The resulting boundaries and conditions were then used in inversion of steady-state and transient-state simultaneous pumping tests and HT surveys of heterogeneity within the groundwater basin. The inversion results demonstrated significant advantages of HT surveys over multiple simultaneous pumping tests to identify boundary conditions and heterogeneity in the groundwater basin. Moreover, steady HT inversion outperforms transient HT inversion in capturing the true boundary conditions, leading to the better T estimates from steady HT inversion than those from transient HT inversion. Additionally, the study shows that accurate geological zonation information can significantly improve HT parameter estimations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020WR028331
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • North China Plain
  • boundary conditions
  • groundwater exploitation reduction
  • groundwater model
  • hydraulic tomography
  • multiple pumping tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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