SEAWAT: A Computer Program for Simulation of Three-Dimensional Variable-Density Ground-Water Flow and Transport

Release Date:

Overview of SEAWAT

Output from SEAWAT depicting transport.

Conceptual diagram showing that SEAWAT can be used to simulate the original Elder problem involving rising thermal plumes or the modified Elder problem involving sinking brine plumes.

SEAWAT is a generic MODFLOW/MT3DMS-based computer program designed to simulate three-dimensional variable-density groundwater flow coupled with multi-species solute and heat transport. The program has been used for a wide variety of groundwater studies including those focused on brine migration in continental aquifers as well as those focused on saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers. SEAWAT uses the familiar structure of MODFLOW and MT3DMS. Thus, most of the commonly used pre and post-processors can be used to create SEAWAT datasets and visualize results. The MODFLOW concepts of "packages" and "processes" are retained in SEAWAT, which allows the program to work with many of the MODFLOW-related software programs, such as MODPATH, ZONEBUDGET, and parameter estimation programs. SEAWAT is a public domain computer program. The source code and software are distributed free of charge by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

SEAWAT Version 4 is a replacement for SEAWAT-2000. SEAWAT-2000 users are encouraged to use this new version, even if the new features are not required for a particular application. SEAWAT Version 4 is backward compatible with datasets created for SEAWAT-2000 and, therefore, SEAWAT-2000 is no longer supported or maintained.


Whats New in Version 4

SEAWAT Version 4 is the most recent SEAWAT release, and like SEAWAT-2000, Version 4 is based on MODFLOW-2000 and MT3DMS. SEAWAT Version 4 retains all of the functionality of SEAWAT-2000 and is backward compatible with SEAWAT-2000 datasets. SEAWAT Version 4 includes the following new features:

  • Effects of viscosity variations on groundwater flow can be represented with the Viscosity (VSC) Package.
  • Unique diffusion coefficients can be entered for each MT3DMS component. This allows thermal diffusivity to be used for the temperature component, and molecular diffusion coefficients to be used for solute species.
  • Fluid density and viscosity can be calculated as a function of one or more MT3DMS species.
  • Additional options are available for specifying the density value associated with constant-head (CHD) boundaries.
  • New options and program redesign allow for faster execution times.

Previous SEAWAT versions are also available for download from this site; however, these versions are no longer maintained, updated, or supported. Users are encouraged to use the most recent version of SEAWAT as it may contain fixes and improvements that are not included in older versions.


Download Current Version of SEAWAT

The current version of SEAWAT is v.4.00.05, released October 19, 2012.


Documentation for SEAWAT

User Guides and Technical Information

Langevin, C.D., SEAWAT: a computer program for simulation of variable-density groundwater flow and multi-species solute and heat transport: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS 2009-3047, 2 p.

Langevin, C.D., Thorne, D.T., Jr., Dausman, A.M., Sukop, M.C., and Guo, Weixing, 2007, SEAWAT Version 4: A Computer Program for Simulation of Multi-Species Solute and Heat Transport: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods Book 6, Chapter A22, 39 p.

Thorne, D., Langevin, C.D., and Sukop, M.C., 2006, Addition of simultaneous heat and solute transport and variable fluid viscosity to SEAWAT: Computer and Geosciences vol. 32, 1758-1768.

Langevin, C.D., and Guo, W., 2006, MODFLOW/MT3DMS-based simulation of variable density ground water flow and transport [2.1MB PDF]: Ground Water vol. 44, no. 3:339-351.

Langevin, C.D., Shoemaker, W.B., and Guo, Weixing, 2003, MODFLOW-2000, the U.S. Geological Survey Modular Ground-Water Model–Documentation of the SEAWAT-2000 Version with the Variable-Density Flow Process (VDF) and the Integrated MT3DMS Transport Process (IMT): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 03-426, 43 p.

Guo, Weixing, and Langevin, C.D., 2002, User's Guide to SEAWAT: A Computer Program for Simulation of Three-Dimensional Variable-Density Ground-Water Flow: Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations Book 6, Chapter A7, 77 p.

Published Reports and Articles Describing an Application of SEAWAT

Al-Maktoumi, A., Lockington, D.A., and Volker, R.E., in press, SEAWAT 2000: modelling unstable flow and sensitivity to discretization levels and numerical schemes: Hydrogeology Journal 15, no. 6: 1119-1129.

Bakker, M., Oude Essink, G.H.P., and Langevin, C.D., 2004, The rotating movement of three immiscible fluids - a benchmark problem. Journal of Hydrology 287, 270-278.

Bakker, M., 2003, A Dupuit formulation for modeling seawater intrusion in regional aquifer systems: Water Resources Research 39, no. 5, 1131

Bauer, P., Held, R.J., Zimmermann, S., Linn, F., and W. Kinzelbach, 2006, Coupled flow and salinity transport modelling in semi-arid environments: The Shashe River Valley, Botswana: Journal of Hydrology 316, no. 1-4: 163-183

Bauer-Gottwein, P., Langer, T., Prommer, H., Wolski, P., and Kinzelbach, W., 2007. Okavango Delta Islands: Interaction between density-driven flow and geochemical reactions under evapo-concentration: Journal of Hydrology 335, no. 3-4: 389-405.

Bauer-Gottwein, P., Rasmussen, N.F., Feificova, D., and Trapp, S., 2008. Phototoxicity of salt and plant salt uptake: Modeling ecohydrological feedback mechanisms: Water Resources Research 44, no. 4, Article number W04418.

Brovelli, A., Mao, X., and Barry, D.A., 2007, Numerical modeling of tidal influence on density-dependent contaminant transport, Water Resources Research vol. 43, W10426, doi:10.1029/2006WR005173.

Dausman, A.M. and Langevin, C.D. 2005. Movement of the saltwater interface in the Surficial Aquifer System in response to hydrologic stresses and water-management practices, Broward County, Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5256.

Don, N.C., Hang, N.T.M., Araki, H., Yamanishi, H., Koga, K., 2006. Salinization processes in an alluvial coastal lowland plain and effect of sea water level rise. Environmental Geology vol. 49, no. 5.

Don, N.C., Araki, H., Yamanishi, H., Koga, K., 2005. Simulation of groundwater flow and environmental effects resulting from pumping. Environmental Geology vol. 47, no. 3.

Don, N.C., Araki, H., Hang, N.T.M., Yamanishi, H., Koga, K., 2006. Modeling groundwater flow and its associated environmental problem in a lowland coastal plain: a first step towards a sustainable development plan. Environment, Development and Sustainability, online first, doi: 10.1007/s10668-006-9061-4.

Dreybolt, W., and Romanov, D., 2007, Time scales in the evolution of solution porosity in porous coastal carbonate aquifers by mixing corrosion in the saltwater-freshwater transition zone: Acta Carsologica 36, no. 1: 25-34.

Goswami, R.R., and Clement, T.P., 2007, Laboratory-scale investigation of saltwater intrusion dynamics: Water Resources Research 43, W04418, doi:10.1029/2006WR005151.

Kanel, S.R., Goswami, R.R., Clement, T.P., Barnett, M.O., Zhao, D., 2008, Two dimensional transport characteristics of surface stabilized zero-valent iron nanoparticles in porous media: Envrionmental Science & Technology 42, no. 3: 896-900.

Langevin, C.D., 2001, Simulation of Ground-Water Discharge to Biscayne Bay, Southeastern Florida: USGS WRIR 00-4251

Langevin, C.D. 2003, Simulation of submarine ground water discharge to a marine estuary: Biscayne Bay, Florida.: Ground Water 41, no. 6: 758-771. (pdf file - 0.5mb)

Langevin, C.D., 2008, Modeling axisymmetric flow and transport: Ground Water 46, no. 4: 579-590.

Langevin, C.D., Oude Essink, G.H.P., Panday, S., Bakker, M., Prommer, H., Swain, E.D., Jones, W., Beach, M., and M. Barcelo, 2004. Chapter 3, MODFLOW-based tools for simulation of variable-density groundwater flow: in Coastal Aquifer Management: Monitoring, Modeling, and Case Studies, (eds.) A. Cheng and D. Ouazar, Lewis Publishers, p. 49-76.

Langevin, Christian D., Swain, Eric D., and Wolfert, Melinda A., 2004, Simulation of Integrated Surface-Water/Ground-Water Flow and Salinity for a Coastal Wetland and Adjacent Estuary: USGS OFR 2004-1097, 30 p.

Langevin, C.D., Swain, E.D., and Wolfert, M.A. 2005. Simulation of integrated surface-water/ground-water flow and salinity for a coastal wetland and adjacent estuary: Journal of Hydrology 314, no, 1-4: 212-234.

Langevin, C.D., and Guo, W., 2006. MODFLOW/MT3DMS-based simulation of variable density ground water flow and transport: Ground Water vol. 44, no. 3:339-351.

Lin, J., Zheng, C., Wu, J., and Chien, C.C., 2007. Ground water simulation optimization model based on genetic algorithm under variable density conditions: Shuili Xuebao/Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 38, no. 10: 1236-1244.

Maliva, R.G., Guo, W., Missimer, T.M., 2007. Vertical migration of municipal wastewater in deep injection well systems, South Florida, USA: Hydrogeology Journal 15, no. 7: 1387-1396.

Maliva, R.G., Guo, W., Missimer, T.M., 2006. Aquifer storage and recovery: Recent hydrogeological advances and system performance: Water Environment Research v. 78, no. 13, p. 2428-2435.

Mao, X., Prommer, H., Barry, D.A., Langevin, C.D., Panteleit, B., and Li, L., 2006. Three-dimensional model for multi-component reactive transport with variable density groundwater flow: Environmental Modelling & Software, vol. 21, 5: 615-628.

Mao, X., Enot, P., Barry, D.A., Li, L., Binley, A., Jeng, D.-S., 2006. Tidal influence on behaviour of a coastal aquifer adjacent to a low-relief estuary. Journal of Hydrology, vol. 327. no. 1-2. p. 110-127.

Masterson, J.P., and Garabedian, S.P., 2007, Effects of sea-level rise on ground-water flow in a coastal aquifer system: Ground Water, v. 45, no. 2, 209-217, pp.

Masterson, John P., Simulated Interaction Between Freshwater and Saltwater and Effects of Ground-Water Pumping and Sea-Level Change, Lower Cape Cod Aquifer System, Massachusetts: USGS SIR 2004-5014, 78 p.

Mulligan, A.E., Evans, R.L., and Lizarralde, D., 2007, The role of paleochannels in groundwater/seawater exchange: Journal of Hydrology 335, no. 3-4. p. 313-329.

Nassar, M.K.K., El-Damak, R.M., and Ghanem, A.H.M., 2008. Impact of desalination plants brine injection wells on coastal aquifers: Environmental Geology 54, no. 3. p. 445-454.

Post, V.E.A., and Prommer, H., 2007. Multicomponent reactive transport simulation of the Elder problem: Effects of chemical reactions on salt plume development: Water Resources Research Volume 43, no. 10, Article number W10404.

Qahman, K., Larabi, A., 2006. Evaluation and numerical modeling of seawater intrusion in the Gaza aquifer (Palestine). Hydrogeology Journal, vol. 14, no. 5. p. 713-728.

Rao S V N (2007) Optimal locations of skimming wells. Hydrological sciences Journal, 52(2), 352-361.

Rao, S V N., Sudhir Kumar, Shashank Shekher and S K Sinha, in press, Optimal operation of skimming wells – A case study in river Yamuna flood plain at Palla in north India (published online DOI: 10.1007/s 10040-007-0173-1, Hydrogeology Journal, Springer)

Rao, S V N., Sudhir Kumar, Shashank Shekher and D Chakravorty, 2006. Optimal pumping from skimming wells. ASCE J. of Hydrologic Engineering, Vol. 11, 5, 464-471.

Rao, S V N. (2006) A computationally efficient technique for source identification problems in 3D aquifers using ANN and simulated annealing Environmental Forensics Journal, Vol. 7, 3, 233-240.

Rao, S. V. N. , Bhallamudi, S. M., Thandaveswara, B. S. , Sreenivasulu, V., 2005, Planning groundwater development in coastal deltas with paleo channels: Water Resources Management 19, no. 5:625 - 639

Rao, S.V.N., Sreenivasulu, V., Bhallamudi, S.M., Thandaveswara, B.S., and Sudheer, K.P., 2004, Planning groundwater development in coastal aquifers: Hydrological Sciences Journal 49, no. 1:155-170

Robinson, C., L. Li and D. A. Barry, 2006. Effect of tidal forcing on a subterranean estuay; Advances in Water Resources 30, no. 4: 851-865.

Robinson, C., Gibbes, B., and Li, L., 2006. Driving mechanisms for groundwwater flow and salt transport in a subterranean estuary. Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 33, L03402, doi:10.1029/2005GL025247, 2006.

Romanov, D., Dreybrodt, W., 2006. Evolution of porosity in the saltwater–freshwater mixing zone of coastal carbonate aquifers: An alternative modelling approach. Journal of Hydrology, vol. 329, p. 661-673.

Schneider, J.C. and Kruse, S.E., 2003, A comparison of controls on freshwater lens morphology of small carbonate and siliciclastic islands: examples from barrier islands in Florida, USA: Journal of Hydrology, vol 284, p. 253-269

Schneider, J.C. and Kruse, S.E., 2006, Assessing selected natural and anthropogenic impacts on freshwater lens morphology on small barrier Islands: Dog Island and St. George Island, Florida, USA, Hydrogeology Journal, vol. 14, no. 1 - 2: 131 - 145.

Shoemaker, W.B., 2004, Important Observations and Parameters for a Salt Water Intrusion Model: Ground Water, v.42, no.6, p. 829-840.

Shoemaker, W. Barclay and Edwards, K. Michelle, 2003, Potential for Saltwater Intrusion into the Lower Tamiami Aquifer near Bonita Springs, Southwestern Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 03-4262, 74 p.

Simpson, M.J. 2004. SEAWAT-2000: Variable-Density Flow Processes and Integrated MT3DMS Transport processes. Ground Water 42, no. 5: 642-645.

Thorne, D., Langevin, C.D., and Sukop, M.C., 2006. Addition of simultaneous heat and solute transport and variable fluid viscosity to SEAWAT: Computer and Geosciences vol. 32, 1758-1768.

Yager, R.M., Kappel, W.M., Plummer, L.N., 2007. Origin of halite brine in the Onondaga Trough near Syracuse, New York State, USA: modeling geochemistry and variable-density flow: Hydrogeology Journal 15, no. 7: 1321-1339.

Zimmermann, S., Bauer, P., Held, R., Kinzelbach, W., and Walthe, J.H., 2006, Salt transport on islands in the Okavango Delta: Numerical investigations: Advances in Water Resources, vol. 29, no. 1: 11-29


Superseded SEAWAT Versions


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This software is a product of the U.S. Geological Survey, which is part of the U.S. Government.


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Public Domain

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