The process of accounting for heterogeneity has made significant advances in statistical research, primarily in the framework of stochastic analysis and the development of multiple-point statistics (MPS). Among MPS techniques, the direct sampling (DS) method is tested to determine its ability to delineate heterogeneity from aerial magnetics data in a regional sandstone aquifer intruded by low-permeability volcanic dykes in Northern Ireland, UK. The use of two two-dimensional bivariate training images aids in creating spatial probability distributions of heterogeneities of hydrogeological interest, despite relatively ‘noisy’ magnetics data (i.e. including hydrogeologically irrelevant urban noise and regional geologic effects). These distributions are incorporated into a hierarchy system where previously published density function and upscaling methods are applied to derive regional distributions of equivalent hydraulic conductivity tensor K. Several K models, as determined by several stochastic realisations of MPS dyke locations, are computed within groundwater flow models and evaluated by comparing modelled heads with field observations. Results show a significant improvement in model calibration when compared to a simplistic homogeneous and isotropic aquifer model that does not account for the dyke occurrence evidenced by airborne magnetic data. The best model is obtained when normal and reverse polarity dykes are computed separately within MPS simulations and when a probability threshold of 0.7 is applied. The presented stochastic approach also provides improvement when compared to a previously published deterministic anisotropic model based on the unprocessed (i.e. noisy) airborne magnetics. This demonstrates the potential of coupling MPS to airborne geophysical data for regional groundwater modelling.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgements Neil Dickson was funded through a PhD studentship in Queen’s University, Belfast, from the Northern Irish Department of Education and Learning (DEL). We acknowledge two anonymous reviewers as well as the associate editor A.
McDonald and the editor E. Screaton for valuable comments that contributed to improving the final manuscript.
- aerial magnetics
- multiple-point statistics
- groundwater flow