Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Operations Research


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Paul F. Auclair, PhD

Second Advisor

Dave L. Coulliette, PhD


This thesis examined the use of response surface methodology (RSM) to estimate the parameters of a finite-element groundwater model. An existing two-dimensional, steady-state flow model of a fractured carbonate groundwater system in southwestern Ohio served as the calibration target data set. A Plackett-Burman screening design showed that only four of the ten hydraulic conductivity zones significantly contributed to the output of the finite-element model. Also, the effective porosity parameter did not significantly affect the model's output. Using only the four significant hydraulic conductivity parameters; four two-level, four-factor designed experiments were conducted to exploit the first-order response surface defined by a residual sum of squares function. Additionally, a central composite design and ridge analysis were used to adjust the four parameters and finally arrive at a calibrated model in a grand total of 146 runs. The final calibrated model, which had an average head elevation of 292 meters, matched the calibration target data set with a mean absolute error of only 7 mm over all 524 nodes of the model. RSM provided an effective calibration technique to estimate groundwater flow parameters.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



Co-advised thesis.

The author's Vita page is omitted.