Off-campus Michigan Tech users: To download campus access theses or dissertations, please use the following button to log in with your Michigan Tech ID and password: log in to proxy server

Non-Michigan Tech users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis or dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

John S. Gierke

Committee Member 1

Alex Mayer

Committee Member 2

Ann Maclean


Located in Antrim County, Michigan, the area between the villages of Mancelona and Bellaire is the site of an extensive trichloroethylene (TCE) plume that has impacted numerous residential wells. The contamination primarily affects the shallowest most aquifers and is believed to have resulted from the improper handling and disposal of TCE at the Former Wickes Manufacturing Plant where the solvent was used in degreasing practices associated with the automotive industry. A three layer conceptual model, covering 34.2 square miles and representing a simplified hydrogeological subsurface, was developed based on compiled publicly available information. Hydraulic conductivity values, estimated based on previous investigations, and recharge values, retrieved from state sources, were applied to a steady-state MODFLOW model. PEST Parameter Estimation and calibration were able to adequately match the static water levels derived from well logs to a satisfactory degree. Additional site characterization data including monitoring well lithology records and bedrock observations, were acquired from Amec Foster Wheeler and added to develop a comparison model that was calibrated to monitoring well groundwater elevations. A stochastic analysis of the hydraulic conductivity values for the each of the models was performed to reduce uncertainty in the estimated values. MT3DMS transport modeling attempted to simulate the historical TCE concentration within the network of monitoring wells; however, was unable to constrain the plume geometry with reasonable estimates of parameters and the amount of data available in either model case. MODPATH particle tracking was employed to develop advection-only path lines that were compared to the delineated plume geometry developed by previous investigations and the transport modeling results.

Results indicate that the modeling methods were satisfactory in developing a groundwater flow model based on publicly available data that accurately depicts the flow direction of groundwater due to the close match of particle pathlines and the delineated plume. Additional refinement of the subsurface geometry, perhaps to reflect preferential flow paths of higher hydraulic conductivity, may result in the ability to calibrate a transport model.