Conservative Models: Parametric Entropy Vs. Temporal Entropy in Outcomes

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The geologic architecture in aquifer systems affects the behavior of fluid flow and the dispersion of mass. The spatial distribution and connectivity of higher-permeability facies play an important role. Models that represent this geologic structure have reduced entropy in the spatial distribution of permeability relative to models without structure. The literature shows that the stochastic model with the greatest variance in the distribution of predictions (i.e., the most conservative model) will not simply be the model representing maximum disorder in the permeability field. This principle is further explored using the Shannon entropy as a single metric to quantify and compare model parametric spatial disorder to the temporal distribution of mass residence times in model predictions. The principle is most pronounced when geologic structure manifests as preferential-flow pathways through the system via connected high-permeability sediments. As per percolation theory, at certain volume fractions the full connectivity of the high-permeability sediments will not be represented unless the model is three-dimensional. At these volume fractions, two-dimensional models can profoundly underrepresent the entropy in the real, three-dimensional, aquifer system. Thus to be conservative, stochastic models must be three-dimensional and include geologic structure.