An Analysis Platform for Multiscale Hydrogeologic Modeling with Emphasis on Hybrid Multiscale Methods

Timothy D. Scheibe, Ellyn M. Murphy, Xingyuan Chen, Amy K. Rice, Kenneth C. Carroll, Bruce J. Palmer, Alexandre M. Tartakovsky, Ilenia Battiato, Brian D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


One of the most significant challenges faced by hydrogeologic modelers is the disparity between the spatial and temporal scales at which fundamental flow, transport, and reaction processes can best be understood and quantified (e.g., microscopic to pore scales and seconds to days) and at which practical model predictions are needed (e.g., plume to aquifer scales and years to centuries). While the multiscale nature of hydrogeologic problems is widely recognized, technological limitations in computation and characterization restrict most practical modeling efforts to fairly coarse representations of heterogeneous properties and processes. For some modern problems, the necessary level of simplification is such that model parameters may lose physical meaning and model predictive ability is questionable for any conditions other than those to which the model was calibrated. Recently, there has been broad interest across a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines in simulation approaches that more rigorously account for the multiscale nature of systems of interest. In this article, we review a number of such approaches and propose a classification scheme for defining different types of multiscale simulation methods and those classes of problems to which they are most applicable. Our classification scheme is presented in terms of a flowchart (Multiscale Analysis Platform), and defines several different motifs of multiscale simulation. Within each motif, the member methods are reviewed and example applications are discussed. We focus attention on hybrid multiscale methods, in which two or more models with different physics described at fundamentally different scales are directly coupled within a single simulation. Very recently these methods have begun to be applied to groundwater flow and transport simulations, and we discuss these applications in the context of our classification scheme. As computational and characterization capabilities continue to improve, we envision that hybrid multiscale modeling will become more common and also a viable alternative to conventional single-scale models in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-56
Number of pages19
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'An Analysis Platform for Multiscale Hydrogeologic Modeling with Emphasis on Hybrid Multiscale Methods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this