SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1996

Conceptualization and Characterization of Ground-Water Flow Systems


This paper describes an integrated, step-wise method for the qualitative conceptualization and quantitative characterization of ground-water flow systems, including the unsaturated zone. The conceptualization and characterization process, which is iterative and used at any scale, includes: 1) problem definition and data base development; 2) preliminary conceptualization; 3) surface characterization; 4) geologic and geomorphologic characterization; 5) hydrogeologic characterization; and 6) ground-water system characterization. Conceptualization of a ground-water system is fundamental to any qualitative or quantitative evaluation. This approach may be used in: 1) evaluating natural variations in ground-water flow systems; 2) evaluating anthropogenic stresses on ground-water flow systems, such as pumping for water supply, irrigation, induced infiltration, or well injection; 3) evaluating presence and velocity of dissolved ground-water contaminants; 4) designing and selecting mathematical models to simulate ground-water systems; 5) completing model schematization and attribution based on the problem defined, characterized ground-water flow system, and model(s) selected; and 6) designing ground-water remediation systems.

Author Information

Kolm, KE
Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
van der Heijde, PKM
Colorado School of Mines, Int. Ground Water Modeling Center, Golden, CO
Downey, JS
Downey and Gutentag LLC, Arvada, CO
Gutentag, ED
Downey and Gutentag LLC, Lakewood, CO
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 61–80
DOI: 10.1520/STP38379S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5563-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2021-1