Artificial Neural Network (ANN) Based Modeling for Karstic Groundwater Level Simulation


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Water Resources Management

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A relatively new method of addressing different hydrological problems is the use of artificial neural networks (ANN). In groundwater management ANNs are usually used to predict the hydraulic head at a well location. ANNs can prove to be very useful because, unlike numerical groundwater models, they are very easy to implement in karstic regions without the need of explicit knowledge of the exact flow conduit geometry and they avoid the creation of extremely complex models in the rare cases when all the necessary information is available. With hydrological parameters like rainfall and temperature, as well as with hydrogeological parameters like pumping rates from nearby wells as input, the ANN applies a black box approach and yields the simulated hydraulic head. During the calibration process the network is trained using a set of available field data and its performance is evaluated with a different set. Available measured data from Edward’s aquifer in Texas, USA are used in this work to train and evaluate the proposed ANN. The Edwards Aquifer is a unique groundwater system and one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world. The present work focuses on simulation of hydraulic head change at an observation well in the area. The adopted ANN is a classic fully connected multilayer perceptron, with two hidden layers. All input parameters are directly or indirectly connected to the aquatic equilibrium and the ANN is treated as a sophisticated analogue to empirical models of the past. A correlation analysis of the measured data is used to determine the time lag between the current day and the day used for input of the measured rainfall levels. After the calibration process the testing data were used in order to check the ability of the ANN to interpolate or extrapolate in other regions, not used in the training procedure. The results show that there is a need for exact knowledge of pumping from each well in karstic aquifers as it is difficult to simulate the sudden drops and rises, which in this case can be more than 6 ft (approx. 2 m). That aside, the ANN is still a useful way to simulate karstic aquifers that are difficult to be simulated by numerical groundwater models.

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