Environmental research

Comparison of the accuracy of kriging and IDW interpolations in estimating groundwater arsenic concentrations in Texas.

PMID 24559533


Exposure to arsenic causes many diseases. Most Americans in rural areas use groundwater for drinking, which may contain arsenic above the currently allowable level, 10µg/L. It is cost-effective to estimate groundwater arsenic levels based on data from wells with known arsenic concentrations. We compared the accuracy of several commonly used interpolation methods in estimating arsenic concentrations in >8000 wells in Texas by the leave-one-out-cross-validation technique. Correlation coefficient between measured and estimated arsenic levels was greater with inverse distance weighted (IDW) than kriging Gaussian, kriging spherical or cokriging interpolations when analyzing data from wells in the entire Texas (p<0.0001). Correlation coefficient was significantly lower with cokriging than any other methods (p<0.006) for wells in Texas, east Texas or the Edwards aquifer. Correlation coefficient was significantly greater for wells in southwestern Texas Panhandle than in east Texas, and was higher for wells in Ogallala aquifer than in Edwards aquifer (p<0.0001) regardless of interpolation methods. In regression analysis, the best models are when well depth and/or elevation were entered into the model as covariates regardless of area/aquifer or interpolation methods, and models with IDW are better than kriging in any area/aquifer. In conclusion, the accuracy in estimating groundwater arsenic level depends on both interpolation methods and wells' geographic distributions and characteristics in Texas. Taking well depth and elevation into regression analysis as covariates significantly increases the accuracy in estimating groundwater arsenic level in Texas with IDW in particular.