Flow Computation and Mass Balance in Galerkin Finite-Element Groundwater Models

  • Dogrul E
  • Kadir T
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In most groundwater modeling studies, quantification of the flow
rates at domain and subdomain boundaries is as important as the computation
of the groundwater heads. The computation of these flow rates is
not a trivial task when a finite-element method is chosen to solve
the groundwater equation. Generally, it is believed that finite-element
methods do not conserve mass locally. In this paper, a postprocessing
technique is developed to compute mass-conserving flow rates at element
faces. It postprocesses the groundwater head field obtained by the
Galerkin finite-element method, and the calculated flow rates conserve
mass locally and globally. The only requirement for the postprocessor
to be applicable is the irrotationality of the flow field, i.e.,
the curl of the Darcy flux should be zero. The accuracy and the mass
conservation properties of the new postprocessor are demonstrated
using several test problems that include one-, two-, and three-dimensional
flow systems in both homogeneous and heterogeneous aquifer conditions.

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  • Emin C. Dogrul

  • Tariq N. Kadir

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