Decision-Support Groundwater Modelling: A Game

This game illustrates ideas presented in an accompanying interactive video. Like the video, it was developed by Ty Ferré of University of Arizona.

The game is simple but powerful. It resides in an Excel spreadsheet. So you don’t need an expensive video card to play it. And perhaps it is marginally (but only marginally) less exciting than masterpieces of interactive animation that allow you to win wars, destroy armies and subjugate nations before going to bed.

The game clearly illustrates some of the problems that beset hydrogeologists. In doing so, it defines the context in which decision-support groundwater modelling must take place. What we can accomplish as modellers has little to do with how good our simulators (or video cards) are. Nor is it affected by the level of hydrogeological fantasy that we can conjure up. It is determined by how much, or how little, data we have. Unfortunately, we never have enough data to ensure that we do not make the “wrong” decision. So we may need to change our definition of “wrong” to include “the possibility of being wrong given all that anyone knows at the present time”. This provides an honest appraisal of what we can, and cannot, do using maths, logic and simulation to process expensive, though limited, field datasets.

The game assumes no knowledge of modelling or groundwater. It would make a valuable contribution to a course or workshop for entry level hydrogeologists and/or non-expert decision makers.

Download: GMDSI – the game