Development and Sensitivity Analysis of Steady-State and Transient Ogallala Aquifer Ground-Water Flow and Particle Tracking Models

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Ground-water flow and transport models of the Ogallala aquifer were constructed and calibrated for the northeastern portion of the Southern High Plains to evaluate the spatial distribution and magnitude of recharge and ground-water flow and contaminant transport. The U.S. Department of Energy's Pantex Plant, near the center of the model area, was the primary focus of this study. Concerns about potential contamination of the Ogallala aquifer from activities at the Pantex Plant have necessitated this modeling effort to better understand the hydrogeologic processes controlling ground-water flow to and within the Ogallala aquifer. An extensive literature review synthesized previous recharge hypotheses in an effort to develop an accurate conceptual model of recharge to the Ogallala aquifer. Most of these studies designated playas as either one of several possible areas of recharge or as the primary focal point of recharge to the Ogallala aquifer. The database of geologic, geomorphic, geophysical, hydrologic, hydrochemical, and pedologic information supporting this hypothesis is extensive and expanding. Historically, several published ground-water flow models, which were constructed primarily for water-resource evaluation, used spatially uniform recharge. However, contaminant transport velocities associated with focused recharge through playas were found to be significantly higher than those associated with spatially uniform recharge.


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