Smart pilot points using reversible-jump Markov-chain Monte Carlo
Pilot points are typical means for calibration of highly parameterized numerical models. We propose a novel procedure based on estimating not only the pilot point values, but also their number and suitable locations. This is accomplished by a trans-dimensional Bayesian inversion procedure that also allows for uncertainty quantification. The utilized algorithm, reversible-jump Markov-Chain Monte Carlo (RJ-MCMC), is computationally demanding and this challenges the application for model calibration. We present a solution for fast, approximate simulation through the application of a Bayesian inversion. A fast pathfinding algorithm is used to estimate tracer travel times instead of doing a full transport simulation. This approach extracts the information from measured breakthrough curves, which is crucial for the reconstruction of aquifer heterogeneity. As a result, the smart pilot points can be tuned during thousands of rapid model evaluations. This is demonstrated for both a synthetic and a field application. For the selected synthetic layered aquifer, two different hydrofacies are reconstructed. For the field investigation, multiple fluorescent tracers were injected in different well screens in a shallow alluvial aquifer and monitored in a tomographic source-receiver configuration. With the new inversion procedure, a sand layer was identified and reconstructed with a high spatial resolution in 3-D. The sand layer was successfully validated through additional slug tests at the site. The promising results encourage further applications in hydrogeological model calibration, especially for cases with simulation of transport.