Monday, January 30, 2012

Groundwater Modeling & Robots????

As some of you know, my wife and I have been coaching our local high school robotics team.  The team competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge (see  It is a really great way to keep kids interested in science and math.  Also, a practical benefit is the $9 million in scholarships available to robotics team members when they apply to college. 

Our team is #4433 Smokin' Motors (so named because last year we killed an electric motor in spectacular fashion).  Please check out the team web site at  This is our second year competing in FTC and we have qualified for the Pennsylvania State Championship at the end of February.

There are two reasons I wanted to put this in my blog.  First, we live in a very rural part of Pennsylvania where we have lots of cows, horses, and tractors, but not many engineering companies.  Our team could really use some mentors who are engineers.  I have always been impressed by the diverse background of groundwater modelers and I am confident some of your out there are engineers (or have an interest in robots)!  If you would be interested in helping our team, please let me know.  I envision several web meetings between September 2012 and January 2013 to introduce you to the challenge for next year, explain our strategy in tackling that challenge, and get some ideas on how we might go about that.  We would probably only need about 4 hours of your time over that 5-month period.  If you are interested, please send me an email (

The second reason for posting this to my blog is to see if any of you would be interested in starting a robotics team.  Teams do not need to be associated with a school and they do not need to be in the USA.  A lot of the teams are boy scout troups, girl scout troups, home-school organizations, etc.  FTC teams need between 2 and 10 kids ages 14 to 18.  The cost of starting a team is about $2,500.  That includes purchasing all of the materials and attending one or two competitions.  I would like to sponsor one or two teams each year.  If you would be interested, please contact me.

My daughter Ingrid and I will be make a brief presentation at the end of my upcoming webinar on February 20.  The webinar is free and will be presented at 11 am Eastern Time (USA) and 8 pm Eastern Time.  I would just like to take the last 5 minutes or so to describe our team and FTC in general.  If you would like to attend, there are links on our main home page at


MODFLOW-NWT Version 1.0.4

A new version of MODFLOW-NWT (version 1.0.4) was released last week.  The new version can be found in Groundwater Vistas Version 6.14 Build 16.  It is on our web site now for download.

The new version of MODFLOW-NWT has two changes.  The first allows the MNW1 Package to be used with MT3DMS.  In previous versions, the MNW1 contribution to the flow-link file was disabled.  It is now functional.  The second change is for the SFR Package.  Previous versions of MODFLOW-NWT did not support the option where NSTRM could be negative (thus signifying unsaturated flow beneath stream channels).  That option is now supported.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year

We hope your holidays were great!

We have been busy, as usual, trying to keep Groundwater Vistas up to date.  There have been three major things added since my last posts before the holidays.  These include (1) tied parameters in Pest, (2) modifications to how Storage pilot points are handled, and (3) a new update for MODFLOW-NWT.

Tied parameters in PEST are those that are modified based on how another parameter changes during calibration.  A common example is vertical hydraulic conductivity, which may be set as a multiple of horizontal hydraulic conductivity.  PEST would estimate horizontal K and then vertical K is automatically adjusted based on the new horizontal K value.  We have had some of this sort of thing in the past with pilot points (see previous posts) but this new feature works with any zone-based or reach-based parameter.  Step 1 is to define every parameter you need (including the ones that are tied) under Model|Pest|Parameters.  In Step 2, select Model|Pest|Tied Parameters.  The parameters on the left side of this spreadsheet are ones from step 1.  For those parameters that are tied, enter the parameter they are tied to on the right.  Just leave all untied parameters unchanged.

In previous versions of Groundwater Vistas, the storage pilot point represented the primary storage coefficient of a cell.  For a type 1 layer using the BCF Package, this would be specific yield.  For type 3 layers in BCF or unconfined layers in LPF, where the water table was lower than the layer top, this would also be specific yield.  For all other conditions, the pilot point would be the storage coefficient in BCF or specific storage in LPF.  We now have two types of storage pilot points in GV6, Storage (or specific Storage) and Specific Yield.  When starting a new model in Vistas or opening an older model that did NOT have storage pilot points, the new approach is used.  If you open an older model in Vistas that had storage pilot points, GV will default to the older legacy approach so as not to change your model.  You can opt for the new approach by selecting Model|Pest|Options - Targets tab.

And finally, a new version of MODFLOW-NWT was released by the USGS on December 29.  Some solver issues were fixed and changes were made to the UZF and SFR Packages.  Note that there is some additional data input for UZF that we do not yet support.  However, your model will still run without these options.  If you review these changes on the USGS web site and need these new options for your model, please let me know so I can make it a higher priority.

All of these changes are in Version 6.14 Build 4 which is on our web site now.

Happy New Year!