USGS Releases New Web-Based Groundwater Model Visualization Tool

Release Date:

A new U.S. Geological Survey groundwater model visualization tool is now available to help users visualize the inputs and outputs of complex groundwater models across the country.

Groundwater models are computer codes that simulate the physics of groundwater motion within an aquifer system. This new web-based mapping tool, called GWWebFlow, allows water managers and the public to visualize complex groundwater models in a more understandable way.

“This web-based platform gives water managers the ability to easily visualize groundwater model inputs and results,” said Jeremy White, USGS scientist and GWWebFlow team lead. “This was not previously possible for those without specific knowledge of and access to groundwater modeling software.”

The tool allows users to quickly and easily view computer model inputs, such as information about aquifer properties, as well as the outputs, such as groundwater levels and flow direction. Easy access to this information will help resource managers make informed decisions about resources.

 “This is a new tool for water resource managers to better understand and work with complex groundwater models,” said Susan Roberts, Director Water Systems Division at Texas A&M Engineering Center for Applied Technology. “Use of netCDF and THREDDS supports common platforms for viewer selection of data and visualization of results.” 

GWWebFlow supports most MODFLOW-based groundwater models; new models will be added in the future with little modification or customization. Currently, there are three USGS groundwater models available for viewing from the USGS Texas Water Science Center, including a Houston-area groundwater model, a San Antonio region Edwards aquifer brackish water model, and a Pecos County region Edwards-Trinity and related aquifers model. The USGS plans to add other existing groundwater models from around the country to this web application.

Some examples of models that have been incorporated into GWWebFlow Include:

Houston area: Hydrogeology and simulation of groundwater flow and land-surface subsidence in the northern part of the Gulf Coast aquifer system, Texas, 1891-2009

San Antonio region: Updated numerical model with uncertainty assessment of 1950-56 drought conditions on brackish-water movement within the Edwards aquifer

Pecos County region: Simulation of groundwater flow in the Edwards-Trinity and related aquifers

In this example, the left pane shows a map distribution of model input values for aquifer properties for a model layer. 

In this example, the left pane shows a map distribution of model input values for aquifer properties for a model layer.  The right pane shows a map distribution of model output values for relative concentration of a modeled constituent (salinity) for the same model layer.  Model source: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/sir20155081.

A model output map

In this example of a model output map, a distribution of values for water levels simulated by the model is shown.  Additionally shown are a graph of simulated water levels versus depth, and a graph that shows simulated water levels over time at a particular model cell location. Model source: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/sir20155081.