International Association of Hydrogeologists Australia

IAH NSW – March Tech Talk

Simulation (modelling) for analysis and design – 50 years and counting

Dr Lloyd Townley

Founder, Nanjing Smart Technology Development Co. Ltd


Engineers use software to design buildings, power distribution systems, air conditioning systems, aeroplanes, printed circuit boards – pretty much everything we rely on in day-to-day life – yet they are not challenged by customers about their choice of software or the assumptions made during design. Geotechnical engineers, vulcanologists, oceanographers, astronomers and earth scientists of many other kinds also use simulation software, and are rarely challenged by the general public, not in the same way that groundwater hydrologists (and perhaps climate scientists) are challenged every time they expose their work for public scrutiny. Groundwater modelling is indeed challenging, but it remains the best and perhaps the only way to predict the future behaviour of groundwater systems, at all scales in space and time. In this talk, Dr Townley will share stories spanning the last 50 years, related to groundwater and other aspects of water management, and highlight some topics that he believes should be taught to hydrogeologists. He will include reference to challenges and opportunities in China, where his work is focused on IoT and Digital Twins.


Dr Townley studied at the University of Sydney (commencing in March 1972), Caltech, MIT and the AGSM. He trained as a civil engineer, in environmental engineering science, and then in (groundwater) hydrology and hydrodynamics. He was on faculty at UWA for 4.5 years and worked with CSIRO Land and Water in Perth for 9.5 years, a relatively short career in R&D that ended in mid-1997. He was a consultant in Perth in both small and large consulting firms, and greatly enjoyed 4 years in a global role with Rio Tinto, until the financial crisis in 2008. After one year in Melbourne, he moved to China in mid-2017. He is known as a “modeller” but would always prefer to be known as a “problem solver”. What’s the question? He remains excited about the next phase of his career.

Please note that NSW Technical Talks will remain open to anyone with an interest in groundwater topics and lessons delivered by eminent and inspiring hydrogeologists.  If you are currently a non-member we encourage you to support the IAH NSW Chapter by visiting:

All attendees must sign in at the front desk and are free of COVID-19 Symptoms

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