Analysis and improvement of the nonlinear iterative techniques for groundwater flow modelling utilising MODFLOW

Durick, Andrew Michael (2004) Analysis and improvement of the nonlinear iterative techniques for groundwater flow modelling utilising MODFLOW. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


As groundwater models are being used increasingly in the area of resource allocation, there has been an increase in the level of complexity in an attempt to capture heterogeneity, complex geometries and detail in interaction between the model domain and the outside hydraulic influences. As models strive to represent the real world in ever increasing detail, there is a strong likelihood that the boundary conditions will become nonlinear. Nonlinearities exist in the groundwater flow equation even in simple models when watertable (unconfined) conditions are simulated. This thesis is concerned with how these nonlinearities are treated numerically, with particular focus on the MODFLOW groundwater flow software and the nonlinear nature of the unconfined condition simulation.

One of the limitations of MODFLOW is that it employs a first order fixed point iterative scheme to linearise the nonlinear system that arises as a result of the finite difference discretisation process, which is well known to offer slow convergence rates for highly nonlinear problems. However, Newton's method can achieve quadratic convergence and is more effective at dealing with higher levels of nonlinearity. Consequently, the main objective of this research is to investigate the inclusion of Newton's method to the suite of computational tools in MODFLOW to enhance its flexibility in dealing with the increasing complexity of real world problems, as well as providing a more competitive and efficient solution methodology. Furthermore, the underpinning linear iterative solvers that MODFLOW currently utilises are targeted at symmetric systems and a consequence

of using Newton's method would be the requirement to solve non-symmetric Jacobian systems. Therefore, another important aspect of this work is to investigate linear iterative solution techniques that handle such systems, including the newer Krylov style solvers GMRES and BiCGSTAB.

To achieve these objectives a number of simple benchmark problems involving nonlinearities through the simulation of unconfined conditions were established to compare the computational performance of the existing MODFLOW solvers to the new solution strategies investigated here. One of the highlights of these comparisons was that Newton's method when combined with an appropriately preconditioned Krylov solver was on average greater than 40% more CPU time efficient than the Picard based solution techniques. Furthermore, a significant amount of this time saving came from the reduction in the number of nonlinear iterations due to the quadratic nature of Newton's method. It was also found that Newton's method benefited more from improved initial conditions than Picard's method. Of all the linear iterative solvers tested, GMRES required the least amount of computational effort. While the Newton method involves more complexity in its implementation, this should not be interpreted as prohibitive in its application. The results here show that the extra work does result in performance increase, and thus the effort is certainly worth it.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

857 since deposited on 03 Dec 2008
94 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 15990
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Turner, Ian & Doherty, John
Keywords: MODFLOW, GMRES, BiCGSTAB, picard, Newton's method
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Andrew Michael Durick
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:54
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:41

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page