In order to generate representative concentration contour plots, the spacing of monitoring wells needs to reflect the characteristic distance over which solute concentrations vary in the groundwater. This will vary from site to site: if groundwater flow rates are low or solute transport retarded then concentration hotspots are likely to occur and a closer well spacing will be required to map the concentration distribution. Conversely, if groundwater flow rates are high and solute transport is not significantly retarded then a larger well spacing may be adequate to map the concentration distribution.
Because the minimum well spacing required for effective concentration contouring varies from site to site, the user’s judgement is required in deciding whether the available data merits contouring. The presence of “redundant” data points that can be removed without significantly changing the concentration distribution is an indication that the monitoring well spacing is more than sufficient.
In the event that only a small number of wells (i.e. <4) are present, then GWSDAT v2.0 includes a circle plot option, which represents the data as circles coloured and sized to solute concentration, thereby avoiding the need to use potentially misleading concentration contours.
Similar arguments apply to the contouring of groundwater elevation data, although in the absence of significant topographic variation/ geological heterogeneity or groundwater abstraction/ water injection groundwater piezometric surfaces should be locally planar. The adaptive kriging algorithm used by GWSDAT to derive the piezometric surface requires a minimum of 4 well locations; flow direction arrows can, however, be generated for only 3 well locations.