A new package in MODFLOW to simulate unconfined groundwater flow in sloping aquifers. Academic Article uri icon


  • The nonhorizontal-model-layer (NHML) grid system is more accurate than the horizontal-model-layer grid system to describe groundwater flow in an unconfined sloping aquifer on the basis of MODFLOW-2000. However, the finite-difference scheme of NHML was based on the Dupuit-Forchheimer assumption that the streamlines were horizontal, which was acceptable for slope less than 0.10. In this study, we presented a new finite-difference scheme of NHML based on the Boussinesq assumption and developed a new package SLOPE which was incorporated into MODFLOW-2000 to become the MODFLOW-SP model. The accuracy of MODFLOW-SP was tested against solution of Mac Cormack (1969). The differences between the solutions of MODFLOW-2000 and MODFLOW-SP were nearly negligible when the slope was less than 0.27, and they were noticeable during the transient flow stage and vanished in steady state when the slope increased above 0.27. We established a model considering the vertical flow using COMSOL Multiphysics to test the robustness of constrains used in MODFLOW-SP. The results showed that streamlines quickly became parallel with the aquifer base except in the narrow regions near the boundaries when the initial flow was not parallel to the aquifer base. MODFLOW-SP can be used to predict the hydraulic head of an unconfined aquifer along the profile perpendicular to the aquifer base when the slope was smaller than 0.50. The errors associated with constrains used in MODFLOW-SP were small but noticeable when the slope increased to 0.75, and became significant for the slope of 1.0.

published proceedings

  • Ground Water

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, Q., Zhan, H., & Tang, Z

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Quanrong||Zhan, Hongbin||Tang, Zhonghua

publication date

  • November 2014