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# Documentation for the “XT3D” option in the Node Property Flow (NPF) Package of MODFLOW 6

August 10, 2017

This report describes the “XT3D” option in the Node Property Flow (NPF) Package of MODFLOW 6. The XT3D option extends the capabilities of MODFLOW by enabling simulation of fully three-dimensional anisotropy on regular or irregular grids in a way that properly takes into account the full, three-dimensional conductivity tensor. It can also improve the accuracy of groundwater-flow simulations in cases in which the model grid violates certain geometric requirements. Three example problems demonstrate the use of the XT3D option to simulate groundwater flow on irregular grids and through three-dimensional porous media with anisotropic hydraulic conductivity.

Conceptually, the XT3D method of estimating flow between two MODFLOW 6 model cells can be viewed in terms of three main mathematical steps: construction of head-gradient estimates by interpolation; construction of fluid-flux estimates by application of the full, three-dimensional form of Darcy’s Law, in which the conductivity tensor can be heterogeneous and anisotropic; and construction of the flow expression by enforcement of continuity of flow across the cell interface. The resulting XT3D flow expression, which relates the flow across the cell interface to the values of heads computed at neighboring nodes, is the sum of terms in which conductance-like coefficients multiply head differences, as in the conductance-based flow expression the NPF Package uses by default. However, the XT3D flow expression contains terms that involve “neighbors of neighbors” of the two cells for which the flow is being calculated. These additional terms have no analog in the conductance-based formulation. When assembled into matrix form, the XT3D formulation results in a larger stencil than the conductance-based formulation; that is, each row of the coefficient matrix generally contains more nonzero elements. The “RHS” suboption can be used to avoid expanding the stencil by placing the additional terms on the right-hand side of the matrix equation and evaluating them at the previous iteration or time step.

The XT3D option can be an alternative to the Ghost-Node Correction (GNC) Package. However, the XT3D formulation is typically more computationally intensive than the conductance-based formulation the NPF Package uses by default, either with or without ghost nodes. Before deciding whether to use the GNC Package or XT3D option for production runs, the user should consider whether the conductance-based formulation alone can provide acceptable accuracy for the particular problem being solved.

Publication Year 2017 Documentation for the “XT3D” option in the Node Property Flow (NPF) Package of MODFLOW 6 10.3133/tm6A56 Alden M. Provost, Christian D. Langevin, Joseph D. Hughes Report USGS Numbered Series Techniques and Methods 6-A56 tm6A56 USGS Publications Warehouse Office of Ground Water