Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



Characterization of aquifer heterogeneity is inherently difficult because of the insufficiency of data, the inflexibility of parameterization methods, and non-uniqueness of parameterization methods. Groundwater predictions are greatly affected by multiple interpretations of aquifer properties and the uncertainties of model parameters. This study introduces a Bayesian model averaging (BMA) method along with multiple generalized parameterization (GP) methods to identify hydraulic conductivity and along with multiple simulation models to predict groundwater head and quantify the prediction uncertainty. Two major issues about BMA are discussed. The first problem is with using Occam’s window in usual BMA applications. Occam’s window only accepts models in a very narrow range, tending to single out the best method and discard other good methods. A variance window is proposed to replace Occam’s window to cope with this problem. The second problem is with using the Kashyap information criterion (KIC) in the approximation of posterior model probabilities, which tends to prefer highly uncertain model by considering the Fisher information matrix. The Bayesian information criterion (BIC) is recommended because it is able to avoid controversial results and it is computationally efficient. Numerical examples are designed to test the Bayesian model averaging method on hydraulic conductivity identification and groundwater head prediction. The proposed methodologies are then applied to the hydraulic conductivity identification of the Alamitos Gap area, and the hydraulic conductivity estimation and groundwater head prediction of the “1,500-foot” sand in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. The results show that the GP method provides great flexibility in parameterization with small conditional variance. The use of the variance window is necessary to avoid a dominant model when many models perform equally well. Compared to KIC, BIC is able to give an unbiased posterior model probability. It is also concluded that the uncertainty increases by including multiple models under the BMA framework, but risks are reduced by avoiding overconfidence in the solution from one model.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Frank T.C. Tsai