Particle Swarm Optimization for inverse modeling of solute transport in fractured gneiss aquifer

J Contam Hydrol. 2014 Aug;164:285-98. doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) has received considerable attention as a global optimization technique from scientists of different disciplines around the world. In this article, we illustrate how to use PSO for inverse modeling of a coupled flow and transport groundwater model (MODFLOW2005-MT3DMS) in a fractured gneiss aquifer. In particular, the hydroPSO R package is used as optimization engine, because it has been specifically designed to calibrate environmental, hydrological and hydrogeological models. In addition, hydroPSO implements the latest Standard Particle Swarm Optimization algorithm (SPSO-2011), with an adaptive random topology and rotational invariance constituting the main advancements over previous PSO versions. A tracer test conducted in the experimental field at TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Germany) is used as case study. A double-porosity approach is used to simulate the solute transport in the fractured Gneiss aquifer. Tracer concentrations obtained with hydroPSO were in good agreement with its corresponding observations, as measured by a high value of the coefficient of determination and a low sum of squared residuals. Several graphical outputs automatically generated by hydroPSO provided useful insights to assess the quality of the calibration results. It was found that hydroPSO required a small number of model runs to reach the region of the global optimum, and it proved to be both an effective and efficient optimization technique to calibrate the movement of solute transport over time in a fractured aquifer. In addition, the parallel feature of hydroPSO allowed to reduce the total computation time used in the inverse modeling process up to an eighth of the total time required without using that feature. This work provides a first attempt to demonstrate the capability and versatility of hydroPSO to work as an optimizer of a coupled flow and transport model for contaminant migration.

Keywords: Calibration; Fractured aquifer; Gneiss aquifer; Inverse modeling; MODFLOW2005; MT3DMS; hydroPSO.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Germany
  • Groundwater / chemistry*
  • Hydrology
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Porosity
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Water Pollutants