A Monte Carlo-Based Approach for Groundwater Chemistry Inverse Modeling


Inverse geochemical modeling of groundwater entails identifying a set of geochemical reactions which can explain observed changes in water chemistry between two samples that are spatially related in some sense, such as two points along a flow pathway. A common inversion approach is to solve a set of simultaneous mass and electron balance equations involving water-rock and oxidation-reduction reactions that are consistent with the changes in concentrations of various aqueous components. However, this mass-balance approach does not test the thermodynamic favorability of the resulting model and provides limited insight into the model uncertainties. In this context, a Monte Carlo-based forward-inverse modeling method is proposed that generates probability distributions for model parameters which best match the observed data using the Metro-polis-Hastings search strategy. The forward model is based on the well-vetted PHREEQC geochemical model. The proposed modeling approach is applied to two test applications, one involving an inverse modeling example supplied with the PHREEQC code that entails groundwater interactions with a granitic rock mineral assemblage, and the other concerning the impact of fuel hydrocarbon bioattenuation on groundwater chemistry. In both examples, the forward-inverse approach is able to approximately reproduce observed water quality changes invoking mass transfer reactions that are all thermodynamically favorable.

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McNab Jr., W. (2014) A Monte Carlo-Based Approach for Groundwater Chemistry Inverse Modeling. Open Journal of Modern Hydrology, 4, 112-120. doi: 10.4236/ojmh.2014.44011.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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