Non-local stochastic moment equations are used successfully to analyze groundwater flow in randomly heterogeneous media. Here we present a moment equations-based approach to quantify the uncertainty associated with the estimation of well catchments. Our approach is based on the development of a complete second order formalism which allows obtaining the first statistical moments of the trajectories of conservative solute particles advected in a generally non-uniform groundwater flow. Approximate equations of moments of particles' trajectories are then derived on the basis of a second order expansion in terms of the standard deviation of the aquifer log hydraulic conductivity. Analytical expressions are then obtained for the predictors of locations of mean stagnation points, together with their associated uncertainties. We implement our approach on heterogeneous media in bounded two-dimensional domains, with and without including the effect of conditioning on hydraulic conductivity information. The impact of domain size, boundary conditions, heterogeneity and non-stationarity of hydraulic conductivity on the prediction of a well catchment is explored. The results are compared against Monte Carlo simulations and semi-analytical solutions available in the literature. The methodology is applicable to both infinite and bounded domains and is free of distributional assumptions (and so applies to both Gaussian and non-Gaussian log hydraulic conductivity fields) and formally includes the effect of conditioning on available information. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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