February 1, 2017
Journal Article

PFLOTRAN-E4D: A parallel open source PFLOTRAN module for simulating time-lapse electrical resistivity data



Time-lapse electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) is finding increased application for remotely monitoring processes occurring in the near subsurface in three-dimensions (i.e. 4D monitoring). However, there are few codes capable of simulating the evolution of subsurface resistivity and corresponding tomographic measurements arising from a particular process, particularly in parallel and with an open source license. Herein we describe and demonstrate an electrical resistivity tomography module for the PFLOTRAN subsurface simulation code, named PFLOTRAN-E4D. The PFLOTRAN-E4D module operates in parallel using a dedicated set of compute cores in a master-slave configuration. At each time step, the master processes receives subsurface states from PFLOTRAN, converts those states to bulk electrical conductivity, and instructs the slave processes to simulate a tomographic data set. The resulting multi-physics simulation capability enables accurate feasibility studies for ERT imaging, the identification of the ERT signatures that are unique to a given process, and facilitates the joint inversion of ERT data with hydrogeological data for subsurface characterization. PFLOTRAN-E4D is demonstrated herein using a field study of stage-driven groundwater/river water interaction ERT monitoring along the Columbia River, Washington, USA. Results demonstrate the complex nature of changes subsurface electrical conductivity, in both the saturated and unsaturated zones, arising from water table changes and from river water intrusion into the aquifer. The results also demonstrate the sensitivity of surface based ERT measurements to those changes over time. PFLOTRAN-E4D is available with the PFLOTRAN development version with an open-source license at https://bitbucket.org/pflotran/pflotran-dev .

Revised: March 15, 2017 | Published: February 1, 2017


Johnson T.C., G. Hammond, and X. Chen. 2017. PFLOTRAN-E4D: A parallel open source PFLOTRAN module for simulating time-lapse electrical resistivity data. Computers & Geosciences 99. PNNL-SA-113670. doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2016.09.006