Groundwater investigation has long depended on the process of developing a conceptual flow model as a precursor to developing a mathematical model, which in turn may lead in complex aquifers to the development of a numerical approximation model. The assumptions made in the development of the conceptual model depend heavily on the geological framework defining the aquifer, and if the conceptual model is inappropriate then subsequent modelling will also be incorrect. Paradoxically, the development of a robust conceptual model remains difficult, not least because this 3D paradigm is usually reduced to 2D plans and sections. 3D visualisation software is now available to facilitate the development of the conceptual model, to make the model more robust and defensible and to assist in demonstrating the hydraulics of the aquifer system. Case studies are presented to demonstrate the role and cost-effectiveness of the visualisation process. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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