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Detailed Description




With the ability to simulate groundwater and surface water interactions, and the added capability of calculating changes to groundwater chemistry, groundwater professionals now have a complete set of tools necessary for addressing water quality, groundwater supply, and source water protection initiatives.

MODFLOW-2000 - world standard for groundwater flow simulations
MODFLOW-2005 - three-dimensional finite-difference groundwater-model, 2005 version
MODPATH - standard package for forward and reverse particle tracking
Zone Budget - for sub-regional water budget calculations
MT3DMS - for multi-species contaminant transport simulations
MT3D99 - an enhanced version of MT3DMS, that includes support for implicit solver, TVD Solution scheme, dual-porosity advection-diffusion, Non-equilibrium Sorption and Monod Kinetics, and Multispecies Reactions, including First-Order Parent-Daughter chain reactions, and Instantaneous Reactions among species.
MNW (Multi-Node Well) - designed to help simulate wells with well screens that span multiple layers.
RT3D - for reactive transport simulations
PHT3D – a multi-component transport model for three-dimensional reactive transport in saturated porous media. It couples the two existing and widely used computer programs, the solute transport model MT3DMS and the USGS geochemical code PHREEQC-2.
SEAWAT-2000 - the latest USGS modeling code designed to address three-dimensional, variable-density, transient groundwater flow conditions
MGO - for determining the optimal well pumping and/or injection rates at one or more wells, in order to achieve a specific objective while maintaining reasonable system responses.
VMOD 3D-Explorer - 3D visualization and animation
WinPEST - automated calibration and sensitivity analysis
GMG (Geometric Multi-Grid) Solver Integration - latest USGS solver designed to optimize memory usage and reduce model run times
SAMG (Systems Algebraic Multi-Grid) - an advanced solver ideally suited for large, complex models, now optimized to run with MODFLOW-2000 or SEAWAT-2000 projects
Stream Routing Package - suited for simulating the effects of surface water/groundwater interactions
MIKE11 - The basic river network/channel modeling component of MIKE 11 is now integrated, providing the tools for integrated surface water - groundwater flow.
MODFLOW-SURFACT - Three-dimensional finite-difference variably-saturated flow or soil vapor flow simulations With Visual MODFLOW Premium, you have all the tools necessary to:
  • Graphically assign model grids, properties and boundaries
  • Visualize model input parameters (2D or 3D views)
  • Run the flow, pathline, and transport simulations
  • Automatically (WinPEST) or manually calibrate the model
  • Display and interpret the modeling results in full 3D
  • Produce professional reports

Logical structure and layout eliminates the difficulties of building the input data file for a groundwater flow and/or transport model by guiding the user through the sequence of steps necessary to build a model.
About The Interface

Specifically designed to increase modeling productivity and decrease complexities typically associated with building three-dimensional groundwater flow

The interface is divided into three separate modules; Input, Run and Output.

Building The Model Logical structure and layout eliminates the difficulties of building the input data file for a groundwater flow and/or transport model by guiding the user through the sequence of steps necessary to build a groundwater flow and contaminant transport model.
Running The Simulation Allows the user to select and modify the various flow and transport run-time options and start the model calculations using the Win32 MODFLOW Suite directly from within the modeling environment.
Power Features

Visual MODFLOW Premium has multiple power features including:

  • USGS SEAWAT-2000
  • MGO - Modular Groundwater Optimizer
  • GMG Solver Implementation
  • SAMG Solver Implimentation
  • MNW – Multi-Node Well
Displaying and Interpreting Results Visual MODFLOW Premium automatically reads the results created from each successful simulation and provides a comprehensive selection of graphical formats for displaying full-color results in plan view and cross-sectional views.
Calibrating The Model An extensive selection of built-in model calibration plots and statistical summaries give you with all the interpretation capabilities you need to properly and thoroughly analyze the model calibration data.

Visual MODFLOW Premium Product Details

Visual MODFLOW Professional
Visual MODFLOW Premium
MODFLOW 96/2000/2005
RT3D 1.0/2.5
VMOD 3D-Explorer



Contaminant transport plume over a site map

Vadose zone modeling with MODFLOW-SURFACT

Calculated Jacobian Marix using WinPEST

Coupled surface water-groundwater modeling with MIKE 11

Defining capture zones with MODPATH


At Schlumberger Water Services, our goal is to develop powerful, yet easy-to-use software that meets the needs of groundwater and environmental professionals around the world. Visual MODFLOW is an excellent example of how we have accomplished this goal by making groundwater modeling accessible for any hydrogeologist or engineer who is familiar with the basic concepts and limitations of groundwater modeling.

Professional Applications of Visual MODFLOW Premium:

  • Predict impacts from saltwater intrusion from over pumping in coastal regions
  • Delineate well capture zones for municipal drinking water supplies
  • Design and optimize pumping well locations for dewatering projects
  • Evaluate groundwater remediation systems (Pump & Treat, Funnel & Gate, etc.)
  • Simulate natural attenuation of contaminated groundwater
  • Estimate the reductive dechlorination of TCE, PCE and DCE in groundwater
  • Determine contaminant fate and exposure pathways for risk assessment


Saltwater intrusion modeling for coastal aquifers using SEAWAT

Delineate well capture zones with MODPATH

Determine contaminant fate and exposure pathways for risk assessment

Simulate natural attenuation of contaminated groundwater




When you open or create a file, you will be able to seamlessly switch between these modules to build or modify the model input parameters, run the simulations, and display results.

The Display Control Buttons

The ability to quickly and easily switch between plan view and cross-section display of the model is a powerful feature that allows the user to gain a better perspective on the three-dimensional aspects of the model input parameters and simulation results.

The Navigator Cube

The Navigator Cube provides a three dimensional schematic representation of the model grid and layers. This navigator cube provides a quick visual reference of your active position within the model domain. Also, the active mouse location (X,Y,Z model co-ordinates and I, J, K grid coordinates) are interactively displayed below the navigator cube as you move the mouse around the screen.

Cell Inspector

The Cell Inspector is used to inspect selected model parameter values on a cell-by-cell basis. Model parameters that may be viewed in the Cell Inspector include:
  • Grid Position
  • Model Position
  • World Position
  • Properties (Kx, Ky, Kz, Specific Yield, Specific Storage, Effective Porosity, Initial Head, and Initial Concentration values)
  • Boundary Conditions
  • Output

Project Wizard

Improved project creation wizard helps you to choose the optimal numeric engines to meet your project objectives. You can also import MODFLOW-2000, MODFLOW-96, and MODFLOW-88 data sets.

Site Map Layers

Load site maps and overlay on your model. Supported formats included AutoCAD (.DXF), Shapefiles (.SHP), and Raster images (.BMP, .JPG, .GIF).

Grid Design

Visual MODFLOW Premium allows you to rotate the model domain over the site map (.DXF or .BMP format) to align the model grid with the site characteristics and groundwater flow direction. The finite difference grid can be modified by adding, deleting, moving and automatically refining rows, columns and layers.

Automatic Grid Smoothing

It is important to design the model grid with proper grid spacing to give you the level of detail needed, while maintaining the numerical stability you need for the solution to converge. Automatic grid smoothing is used to identify and fix regions of the grid which are poorly designed

Importing Layer Elevations

Since most aquifers are not 'flat' layers, Visual MODFLOW Premium allows you to import layer surface data from ASCII (X,Y,Z), Surfer (GRD), USGS DEM (.DEM), ESRI (.GRD), MapInfo (.GRD). Import and interpolate layer elevation data from XYZ ASCII files (TXT), MS Access Database (MDB), MS Excel (XLS), and ESRI Point Shape files (SHP).

Grid Cell Elevation Editor

This tool allows you to modify the individual elevations of each cell using an array editor to modify the elevation value. The cell elevations can also be modified in cross-section using 'drag-and-drop' methods to stretch or compress a cell thickness.

Pumping Wells

Pumping wells or injection wells can be added, deleted, copied or moved using the intuitive well edit tools that allow you to graphically delineate the well screen interval and enter or import real-time pumping schedules from an ASCII text file. For sites with many pumping wells, Visual MODFLOW Premium can also import all relevant pumping well data.

Import wells from .txt, .vc, .shp, .xls and .mdb files.

Multiple well screens for a single well are easily accommodated while the pumping rate distribution between layers is automatically calculated based on the transmissivity of the layers through which it is screened.

Visual MODFLOW Premium is the only MODFLOW modeling environment that allows you to assign multi-level observation wells, just like ones you have in the field. In addition, Visual MODFLOW is the only modeling software package that allows you to group the observation points into one or more observation groups. This grouping feature is used for interpreting the calibration data for an isolated section(s) of your model domain.


Visual MODFLOW Premium separates the model properties into two distinct categories:

Flow Properties

Those physical model properties affecting the groundwater flow simulation. Flow properties include; hydraulic conductivity (Kx, Ky, and Kz), specific storage (Ss), specific yield (Sy), porosity and initial heads.

Transport Properties

Those physical and chemical model properties affecting the fate, migration and degradation of a contaminant plume in groundwater, or adsorbed to the soil. Transport properties include; dispersion (Dx, Dy and Dz), bulk density, distribution coefficient (Kd), decay constants, initial concentrations.

Import property zones from ESR1 polygon (.SHP) files.

Properties can be interpolated from XYZ ASCII files (TXT), MS Access Database (MDB), MS Excel (XLS), and ESRI Point Shape files (SHP). Interpolation options include Natural Neighbor, Kriging, and Inverse Distance.

Boundary Conditions

MODFLOW boundary conditions supported by Visual MODFLOW Premium include both steady-state and transient Constant Heads, Rivers, General Heads, Drains, Recharge and Evapotranspiration. The Horizontal Flow Barrier package is also supported.

Visual MODFLOW Premium also supports all contaminant transport boundary conditions available for the latest versions of MT3D including MT3DMS for multi-species transport, and RT3D for reactive transport and natural attenuation simulation. These include constant, recharge, or evapotranspiration concentration, and point source.

For transient simulations, real-time schedules of boundary condition values can be entered directly or imported into the time schedule from an ASCII text file. Recharge and evapotranspiration boundary conditions can be imported from ESRI polygon shapefiles.


Forward or backward tracking particles can be easily assigned for determining advective transport, preferred flow pathways and delineating well capture zones. Visual MODFLOW Premium’s intuitive graphical tools allow you to easily assign single particles, lines of particles and a circle of particles anywhere in your model domain.

Zone Budget

The Zone Budget package allows you to produce zone-to-zone flow summaries for regions of interest in your model domain. Define zone budget flow observations, such as baseflow to a stream, or flux across a boundary, which can be used for calibrating the groundwater flow model against data other than just head measurements. Zone budget observations can be included in WinPEST.

Enviro-Base Pro

Visual MODFLOW Premium now integrates Enviro-Base Pro - an all-in-one database designed to house a variety of referenced property information used when developing groundwater models. Enviro-Base Pro enables you to consolidate your technical references into one package that can be easily launched, searched and updated.

The Run Settings Using Visual MODFLOW, you can easily set up a batch file to run several models in succession. This powerful feature allows you to create multiple versions on the same model and run them while you are doing other tasks including:
  • Initial head estimates (import from ASCII or Surfer, or previous run). Option to calculate VCONT from ground elevation or initial heads
  • Number of time-steps and time-step multiplier
  • Solver selection and convergence settings
  • Recharge layer settings
  • Layer-types (e.g. confined, unconfined)
  • Rewetting options, including option to maintain a minimum saturated thickness for dry cells and to specify a head value in these cells equivalent to the cell bottom elevation.
  • Anisotropy option

MT3D run settings include:

  • Initial concentrations (import from ASCII or Surfer)
  • Solver and advection package settings (UFD, TVD, MOC, MMOC, HMOC)
  • Simulation output times
Advanced Settings

For the advanced users of MODFLOW, you can substitute your own manually created input data files for any MODFLOW by using the Advanced Settings. The Advanced Settings allows you to specify which files you will use from Visual MODFLOW Premium, and which files you will substitute.

Batch Runs

Visual MODFLOW Premium also now allows you to easily set up a batch file to run several models in succession. This is a very powerful feature that allows you to create several versions of the same model and then run the models while you are doing other tasks.

The Win32 MODFLOW Suite

Visual MODFLOW Premium includes the Win32 MODFLOW Suite with MODFLOW-2000, MODPATH, Zone Budget, MT3DMS and RT3D compiled to run as true Windows, 32-Bit applications. This unique and powerful modeling utility actually provides you with the ability to control the numerical solution process by manipulating the solver parameters and convergence criteria while the solution is in progress. In addition, it provides a real-time graphical display of the solution convergence data and a detailed graphical summary of the Zone Budget results.

After each successful run has completed, the Win32 MODFLOW Suite automatically produces all of the necessary files required for you to analyze and interpret the results, and produce full-color, report-quality graphical presentations using Visual MODFLOW Premium’s post-processing graphical features.



The USGS SEAWAT 2000 engine has now been included in Visual MODFLOW Premium, allowing modeling of variable density flow such as seawater intrusion modeling problems. SEAWAT combines a flow code (MODFLOW) with a solute-transport code (MT3DMS) to form a single program that solves the coupled flow and solute-transport equations. It formulates flow equations using mass conservation instead of volume conservation (MODFLOW-2000).

The SEAWAT Engine has also been integrated with the WinPEST parameter optimization component of Visual MODFLOW Premium.

MGO - Modular Groundwater Optimizer

Modular Groundwater Optimizer is a simulation optimization software system, that can be used to reduce the costs associated with installing and operating a pump-and-treat remediation system. MGO code can be applied with no or minor modification to a variety of groundwater resource management issues and other types of remediation systems such as bioremediation, optimization of groundwater pump-and-treat systems.

GMG Solver Implementation

The new Geometric Multigrid Solver (GMG) solver from USGS has been integrated with the MODFLOW-2000 and SEAWAT-2000 Engines. GMG is based on the geometric multigrid solver method. The GMG solver has been demonstrated to greatly reduce model run times relative to other solvers using a comparable amount of memory.

SAMG Solver Update

The latest version of the Algebraic Multigrid Methods for Systems (SAMG) solver, optimized for MODFLOW, has been implemented. The SAMG solver has been demonstrated to be 3 to 11 times faster than the traditional PCG solver for medium sized models, and even faster for large models containing one million or more grid cells.

MNW - Multi-Node Well

The simulation of pumpage by wells is a fundamental and widely used feature of ground-water models such as MODFLOW. Visual MODFLOW’s new addition, the Multi-Node Well Package, is designed to help simulate wells with well screens that span multiple layers. Now you can accurately simulate pumping wells screened in multiple aquifers.



MIKE 11, developed by DHI, is a world-recognized surface water modeling package designed for simulating the hydrodynamic conditions found in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and irrigation canals. Visual MODFLOW Premium and MIKE 11 are now available as a fully coupled, groundwater and surface water simulation environment. This impressive combination represents the only truly conjunctive groundwater/surface water model combining USGS MODFLOW 2000 and DHI’s MIKE 11. Ideally suited for:

  • Analyzing the hydraulic connection between rivers, streams, and aquifer systems
  • Determining groundwater base-flow and potential impacts to ecologically sensitive areas
  • Calculating infiltration rates from surface water to groundwater during rainfall events
  • Developing comprehensive watershed management plans


MODFLOW-SURFACT is a three-dimensional finite-difference flow and transport program containing many advancements and improvements over the standard public-domain versions of MODFLOW. With more robust solution methods and enhanced simulation capabilities for handling complex saturated/unsaturated subsurface flow and transport processes, MODFLOW-SURFACT is specifically designed to address the many limitations and short-comings of the standard MODFLOW codes.

Use MODFLOW-SURFACT when simulating:

  • Multiple water tables, or perched water table systems
  • Steep water table gradients crossing multiple model layers
  • Over-pumped wells screened across multiple model layers
  • Surface water infiltration through the vadose zone to the water table
  • Large water table fluctuations causing desaturation/ resaturation of grid cells
  • Soil vapor flow through the unsaturated zone

In order to get the most out of the model that you build, it is critical that you have the tools necessary to properly analyze the results.

Contouring and Color Maps

  • Heads, drawdown and multi-species concentrations
  • Water table elevations/depth and net recharge
  • Head difference between layers and flux between layers

High-quality color shaded contouring is also available for creating presentation quality color maps of all contoured results.

Flow Velocity Vectors and Pathlines

Visual MODFLOW Premium displays flow velocity vectors and flow pathlines. Flow velocity vectors can be used to effectively illustrate the direction and magnitude of groundwater flow velocity throughout the model domain.

Export Options

Export model display to Raster image format (.BMP, .JPG, .TIF, .PNG, .TIF), or AutoCAD (.DXF) in model or world co-ordinates

Export contour lines, velocity vector maps, and pathline locations to ESRI Shapefile (.SHP) in model or world co-ordinates

Export a wide variety of gridded data to ASCII .TXT, Surfer .GRD, or TecPlot (.DAT)

Visualization using VMOD 3D-Explorer

To achieve an in-depth understanding of your model, and to effectively present the model results to clients or the general public, we’ve incorporated powerful two and three dimensional visualization and animation tools through the VMOD 3D-Explorer.
  • Create contour/color maps of model properties and simulation results
  • Present graphical summaries of global and local mass budgets
  • Create model calibration plots and statistical summaries including mean error, absolute mean error, standard deviation, and many more!
  • Full control of map overlays - save your overlay configurations and view only the overlays you require!
  • Display 3D pumping wells and observation wells
  • Represent soil property zones and boundary conditions in 3D
  • Render high resolution 3D volumetric contaminant plumes
  • Create irregular shaped cross-sections
  • 3D pathlines with time markers
  • Define 3D cut-away regions
  • Animate sequential degradation of contaminant plumes and save into AVI file format for use in Microsoft PowerPoint presentations!

Mass Budgets for Flow and Transport

Visual MODFLOW Premium produces detailed tabular and graphical reports of the mass balances for both the flow and mass transport simulations. These reports provide global and local summaries of the mass inflows and outflow from the system, or from a localized region of the model.


Visual MODFLOW Premium prints full-color, high-resolution graphics to any printer or plotter supported by Windows. The graphical display of the simulation results and/or input files can be printed in portrait or landscape format as a full-page image or with a title block that describes the details of the model and the results being displayed.

Color-shaded contours can be printed with or without a color legend.

Visual MODFLOW Premium also prints the on-screen display to several graphics file formats and exports results to ASCII files in two or three dimensional format.


WinPEST has been seamlessly integrated into Visual MODFLOW Premium to allow you to conveniently select the model parameters you want to optimize, and then easily launch the built-in WinPEST application directly.

WinPEST not only modifies the MODFLOW input data files, it also modifies and updates the Visual MODFLOW Project data files. This makes it much more practical and convenient to re-load your model files once the automated calibration procedure is completed.

Supported parameters for a PEST simulation include flow properties and recharge. You can include head and/or concentration observations, and zone budget observations in the objective function.

During PEST execution, you can view a number of useful pieces of information for displaying and interpreting the PEST simulation results, many of them in real-time graphical form. You can also see how PEST adjusted the values of the parameters during the optimization process.

In all of these plots, Right-Clicking on the graphs and selecting Properties will allow you to alter the appearance of the plots.

Tools for Manual Calibration

An extensive set of built-in model calibration plotting utilities and statistical calculations help you properly evaluate the modeling results and interpret the calibration data. Comprehensive calibration plotting utilities and statistical summaries provide you with all the graphical interpretation tools you need to properly and thoroughly analyze the model calibration data.

Visual MODFLOW allows you to assign multi-level observation wells and group the observation points for isolated analysis of local model regions.
  • Mean Error
  • Mean Absolute Error
  • Standard Error of the Estimate
  • Root Mean Error
  • Normalized Root Mean Error
These statistics can be calculated for all observations, or just for selected groups of observation points (as defined by the user).
  • Scatter plot of calculated vs. observed data
  • Histogram of calibration residuals
  • Time-series plot of calculated and observed data
  • Time-series plot of calibration statistics
  • Bubble plot of calibration residuals
All plots can be exported to common image format (.BMP, .JPG, .TIF, .PNG), and the plot data can be exported to .ASCII for further analysis.
Supported on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP Pro SP2, Windows Vista (Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate), and Windows XP 64 bit version


Main GUI layout with controls and navigator cube

Cell inspector showing input and results

Use the grid cell elevation editor to define model layers

Display pumping wells and observation well in 3D Explorer

Create distributed conductive zones from points data

Define river boundary conditions and display on a site map

Define a line or circle of forward or backward particles

View progress of simulation engines with Win32 Suite

Display colour shading or contours of heads and concentrations

Render color flood maps or contours in 3D Explorer

Contour layer elevations in 3D Explorer

Display fence diagrams and contaminant plume as Isosurface in 3D Explorer

View zone budget mass balance

Display plot of correlation coefficient matrix in WinPEST

Plot weighted sensitivity for parameters in WinPEST

Display plots of calculated vs. observed heads


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