Creating a Confined Aquifer

Does your MODFLOW model contain a confined aquifer? A confined aquifer layer is defined as "an aquifer below the land surface that is saturated with water. Layers of impermeable material are both above and below the aquifer, causing it to be under pressure so that when the aquifer is penetrated by a well, the water will rise above the top of the aquifer."


In MODFLOW, a layer is considered confined when the head in the cell is above the top of the cell. Additionally, any cell located above the water table will be unconfined because the head in those cells will be below the top of the cell.

The layers in your GMS MODFLOW model can be assigned as confined or convertible in any of the flow packages, such as in the LPF package. Other flow packages can be used as well, including the BCF, HUF, and UPW packages. When setting up the MODFLOW model, select the desired flow package in the MODFLOW Packages dialog. The selected flow package must be compatible with the specified MODFLOW version.

In any of the flow package dialogs, under the Layer Type subheading, a layer can be defined as "Confined" or "Convertible". "Convertible" means GMS will automatically assign the layer as confined or unconfined depending on the elevation of the water table in the simulation. Only one layer type can be assigned to each layer. By default, all layers are set to convertible unless specified otherwise.

When a layer is explicitly set to be confined, MODFLOW will use the thickness of the cell, rather than the saturated thickness, to compute a transmissivity value. It will not check for the unconfined condition in the layer.

After defining the layers as confined or convertible, you will have a confined aquifer for your simulation. Try using confined aquifer layers in your GMS models today!

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