Calibration of subsurface flow models is an essential step for managing ground water aquifers, designing of contaminant remediation plans, and maximizing recovery from hydrocarbon reservoirs. We investigate an efficient sampling algorithm known as nested sampling (NS), which can simultaneously sample the posterior distribution for uncertainty quantification, and estimate the Bayesian evidence for model selection. Model selection statistics, such as the Bayesian evidence, are needed to choose or assign different weights to different models of different levels of complexities. In this work, we report the first successful application of nested sampling for calibration of several nonlinear subsurface flow problems. The estimated Bayesian evidence by the NS algorithm is used to weight different parameterizations of the subsurface flow models (prior model selection). The results of the numerical evaluation implicitly enforced Occam's razor where simpler models with fewer number of parameters are favored over complex models. The proper level of model complexity was automatically determined based on the information content of the calibration data and the data mismatch of the calibrated model.
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