Modeling Axisymmetric Flow and Transport



Unmodified versions of common computer programs such as MODFLOW, MT3DMS, and SEAWAT that use Cartesian geometry can accurately simulate axially symmetric ground water flow and solute transport. Axisymmetric flow and transport are simulated by adjusting several input parameters to account for the increase in flow area with radial distance from the injection or extraction well. Logarithmic weighting of interblock transmissivity, a standard option in MODFLOW, can be used for axisymmetric models to represent the linear change in hydraulic conductance within a single finite-difference cell. Results from three test problems (ground water extraction, an aquifer push-pull test, and upconing of saline water into an extraction well) show good agreement with analytical solutions or with results from other numerical models designed specifically to simulate the axisymmetric geometry. Axisymmetric models are not commonly used but can offer an efficient alternative to full three-dimensional models, provided the assumption of axial symmetry can be justified. For the upconing problem, the axisymmetric model was more than 1000 times faster than an equivalent three-dimensional model. Computational gains with the axisymmetric models may be useful for quickly determining appropriate levels of grid resolution for three-dimensional models and for estimating aquifer parameters from field tests.