Groundwater Modeling

Summary

McCurry Hydrology has been involved in modeling aquifer systems, including connected stream-aquifer systems, for more than 30 years. Dr. McCurry has taught graduate-level courses on groundwater modeling and developed a package for the widely used USGS model MODFLOW.

Approach

Starting with a site conceptual model of flow, we then routinely apply analytical or numerical models to evaluate questions of both water flow and solute transport. Our philosophy is to understand the hydraulic and contaminant systems conceptually, and then pose questions a model can answer. This approach is more fruitful than jumping into detailed models whose file processing often takes on a life of its own. 


Many sites contain complex geology, numerous inflows and outflows, and multiple source areas. In such cases numerical modeling is the only pragmatic approach to addressing the investigation objectives. Dr. McCurry has modeled complex sites that have included bedding- and fracture-dominated flow, layered aquifers, permafrost, unsaturated zone flow and transport, density-drive solute migration, and co-mingling plumes from separate source areas.

Benefits of Modeling

Modeling is beneficial because it forces one to quantify their understanding of a system and to identify data gaps. Modeling is also an efficient way to answer "what if" questions about a system and therefore gain valuable insight into it. For these reasons we recommend starting to model early in a project and to use it iteratively as a tool to focus data gathering efforts.