MODFLOW'98 was a SPECTACULAR SUCCESS!


    In early October, over 250 ground-water modelers gathered in the Green Center on the CSM campus to discuss MODFLOW, its add-ons, extensions, plug-ins, spin-offs, interfaces, shells, applications, etc. Many reported that it was the best conference they had ever attended, due to the excellent organization of the conference (Thanks steering committee!) and the high quality of the papers and presentations (Thanks to the organizing committee and attendees!). The purpose of the Conference was to bring together the users and developers of MODFLOW and related modeling programs to present the latest innovations in model applications, discuss the capabilities and limitations of MODFLOW, and explore the needs and directions for future developments. The conference was preceded and followed by a number of short courses.

      The conference "motto" evolved to be:
      It ain't what you don't know that hurts you,
      it's what you think you know that ain't so!
      -- Will Rogers

    The message had a two fold meaning.

    One meaning: We can no longer rely on the results of trial-and-error calibrated models because we are "fooling" ourselves into thinking that we know more about the ground-water system than we actually know. Practical inversion tools now allow for rigorous determination of optimal parameter values and what the data really are, and aren't, supporting. Sometimes we wish we didn't know about the insensitivity of parameters to the available calibration data and the correlation of parameters to one another that prevents independent estimation of their values. However, we are actually better off when we have such knowledge, because then we know what we don't know, and can determine whether it is appropriate to gather more field data or finalize a decision in an uncertain situation. Statistics resulting from inverse modeling can be used to determine the type and location of data that will be most helpful in improving sensitivity and reducing correlation.

    The second meaning: Although we are all familiar with MODLFOW, enhancements seem to be ever evolving, and there may be capabilities available of which we are unaware. The new capabilities may allow us to represent a problem more accurately. If we thought we knew everything about MODFLOW before the conference, but didn't, this might hurt us by leaving us with a less accurate models than could be achieved if the latest tools were used.

    Since its initial release by the U.S. Geological Survey in the early 1980s, MODFLOW, the modular three-dimensional finite-difference groundwater flow model, has come closer to being an international standard than any other code in the brief history of groundwater modeling. The popularity and wide acceptance of MODFLOW has spurred the development of MODFLOW-compatible programs for contaminant transport modeling, parameter estimation, uncertainty analysis, management optimization, graphical interfaces and visualization packages. Today, MODFLOW and its enhancements, are used internationally for an overwhelming majority of industrial applications, and as such, play a key role in shaping the present and future direction of groundwater modeling.

    The Conference featured the following keynote presentations on topics ranging from the history of MODFLOW to the visions for groundwater modeling in the 21st Century.

    Opening Address

      Mary Hill: U.S. Geological Survey
      Ground-water Models: Accurate Enough to be Useful?

    Luncheon Address

      Michael McDonald: McDonald-Morrissey Associates, Inc.
      MODFLOW: Its History and Future

    Keynote Addresses

      Gordon Bennett(The "Grandfather of MODFLOW"): formerly of the U.S. Geological Survey, now at S.S. Papadopulos and Associates
      MODFLOW and the Evolution of the Simulation Approach

      Emil Frind: University of Waterloo
      Simulation of Capture Zones in a Complex 3D Ground-water System: The Waterloo Moraine

      Jeff Holland: U.S. Army Waterways Experiment Station
      Toward More Effective Use of Ground-water Modeling Tools in Environmental Restoration

      Chunmiao Zheng: University of Alabama
      Contaminant Transport Modeling: Current Status and Future Challenges

      John Doherty: Watermark Computing
      In Ground-water Modeling How Much Complexity is too Much?

      Arlen Harbaugh: U.S. Geological Survey
      U.S.G.S. Plans for Enhancing MODFLOW

      Mary P. Anderson: University of Wisconsin - Madison
      Model Complexity: Does the Emperor Have Too Many Clothes?

    Oral presentations, poster sessions, exhibits, workshops, seminars, and software demonstrations pertained to issues of model development, applications, code testing/performance, and graphics related to MODFLOW, including the following topics:

    • Latest developments in MODFLOW and related models, including:
      • issues in model calibration and parameter estimation
      • uncertainty analysis and risk assessment
      • approaches and innovations in contaminant transport modeling
      • coupling of multi-component transport with biological and geochemical reactions
      • coupling with surface-water models
      • groundwater management and remediation design optimization
      • interfacing telescoping grids and sub-grids
      • code testing/performance
      • improved flow-simulation capabilities
      • use in a parallel-processing environment
      • graphical user interfaces and visualization software
    • Limitations of MODFLOW
    • Directions for future development of MODFLOW
    • Advances and applications of database management and geographic information systems (GIS) with MODFLOW
    • Case histories involving unusual applications of MODFLOW
    • Modeling education issues (how do professionals learn to use MODFLOW?)

    Workshops and short courses included:

      MODFLOW-Introduction to Numerical Modeling
      UCODE-Universal Inversion Code: Automated Calibration for Many Codes
      Applied Inverse Modeling: Why use anything less?
      MT3DMS Workshop
      MODFLOW Trouble Shooting
      Calibration of MODFLOW and other models using PEST
      Simulation/Optimization (S/O) Modeling for Optimal Ground-Water Management

    The department appreciates the efforts of the steering committee, including:

      Eileen Poeter : IGWMC, Colorado School of Mines
      Chunmiao Zheng : University of Alabama
      Mary Hill : U S Geological Survey

    and the organizing committee, including:

      Mary Anderson : University of Wisconsin
      Gordon Bennet : S S Papadopulos
      John Doherty : Watermark Computing, Australia
      Emil Frind : University of Waterloo
      Arlen Harbaugh : U S Geological Survey
      Jeff Holland : U S Army Waterways Experiment Station
      Leonard Konikow : U S Geological Survey
      David Lerner : University of Bradford
      Keith Turner : IGWMC, Colorado School of Mines
      David Burden : U S Environmental Protection Agency


    Their contribution, as well as the high quality work submitted by the participants made this an outstanding conference and one that will be remembered for a long time.