A Frequency Domain Approach to Water Quality Modeling in Groundwater: Theory

C. J. Duffy, L. W. Gelhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


A method for the analysis of complex temporal variations of environmental tracers or pollution time series in groundwater is examined using spectral analysis and linear filter theory for stationary stochastic processes. The interpretation of solute fluctuations subject to a time varying source is accomplished via frequency domain solutions to stochastic differential equations for three widely applied transport models: (1) a lumped parameter or linear reservoir model; (2) convective (advective) transport in a curvilinear flow field; and (3) convective‐dispersive transport in a uniform flow field. Frequency domain solutions are presented in terms of the theoretical transfer function and phase spectra which describe the amplitude attenuation and phase lag between frequencies in the input and output. A comparison of the frequency response of the three models indicates that the unique filtering characteristics of each may provide a diagnostic tool for matching the appropriate theory to a sampled water quality “signal.” A procedure is suggested for parameter estimation which involves comparison of the theoretical and field estimated transfer function and phase spectra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1175-1184
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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