ASTM D6033 - 96(2008)

    Standard Guide for Describing the Functionality of a Groundwater Modeling Code

    Active Standard ASTM D6033 | Developed by Subcommittee: D18.21

    Book of Standards Volume: 04.09


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    Significance and Use

    Groundwater modeling has become an important methodology in support of the planning and decision-making processes involved in groundwater management. Groundwater models provide an analytical framework for obtaining an understanding of the mechanisms and controls of groundwater systems and the processes that influence their quality, especially those caused by human intervention in such systems. Increasingly, models are an integral part of water resources assessment, protection and restoration studies, and provide essential and cost-effective support for planning and screening of alternative policies, regulations, and engineering designs affecting groundwater.

    There are many different groundwater modeling codes available, each with their own capabilities, operational characteristics, and limitations. If modeling is considered for a project, it is important to determine if a particular code is appropriate for that project, or if a code exists that can perform the simulations required in the project.

    In practice, it is often difficult to determine the capabilities, operational characteristics, and limitations of a particular groundwater modeling code from the documentation, or even impossible without actual running the code for situations relevant to the project for which a code is to be selected due to incompleteness, poor organization, or incorrectness of a code's documentation.

    Systematic and comprehensive description of a code's features based on an informative classification provides the necessary basis for efficient selection of a groundwater modeling code for a particular project or for the determination that no such code exists. This guide is intended to encourage correctness, consistency, and completeness in the description of the functions, capabilities, and limitations of an existing groundwater modeling code through the formulation of a code classification system and the presentation of code description guidelines.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide presents a systematic approach to the classification and description of computer codes used in groundwater modeling. Due to the complex nature of fluid flow and biotic and chemical transport in the subsurface, many different types of groundwater modeling codes exist, each having specific capabilities and limitations. Determining the most appropriate code for a particular application requires a thorough analysis of the problem at hand and the required and available resources, as well as a detailed description of the functionality of potentially applicable codes.

    1.2 Typically, groundwater modeling codes are nonparameterized mathematical descriptions of the causal relationships among selected components of the aqueous subsurface and the chemical and biological processes taking place in these systems. Many of these codes focus on the presence and movement of water, dissolved chemical species and biota, either under fully or partially saturated conditions, or a combination of these conditions. Other codes handle the joint movement of water and other fluids, either as a gas or a nonaqueous phase liquid, or both, and the complex phase transfers that might take place between them. Some codes handle interactions between the aqueous subsurface (for example, a groundwater system) and other components of the hydrologic system or with nonaqueous components of the environment.

    1.3 The classification protocol is based on an analysis of the major function groups present in groundwater modeling codes. Additional code functions and features may be identified in determining the functionality of a code. A complete description of a code's functionality contains the details necessary to understand the capabilities and potential use of a groundwater modeling code. Tables are provided with explanations and examples of functions and function groups for selected types of codes. Consistent use of the descriptions provided in the classification protocol and elaborate functionality analysis form the basis for efficient code selection.

    1.4 Although groundwater modeling codes exist for simulation of many different groundwater systems, one may encounter situations in which no existing code is applicable. In those cases, the systematic description of modeling needs may be based on the methodology presented in this guide.

    1.5 This guide is one of a series of guides on groundwater modeling codes and their applications, such as Guides D5447, D5490, D5609, D5610, D5611, and D5718.

    1.6 Complete adherence to this guide may not be feasible. For example, research developments may result in new types of codes not yet described in this guide. In any case, code documentation should contain a section containing a complete description of a code's functions, features, and capabilities.

    1.7 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word Standard in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids

    D5447 Guide for Application of a Ground-Water Flow Model to a Site-Specific Problem

    D5490 Guide for Comparing Ground-Water Flow Model Simulations to Site-Specific Information

    D5609 Guide for Defining Boundary Conditions in Ground-Water Flow Modeling

    D5610 Guide for Defining Initial Conditions in Ground-Water Flow Modeling

    D5611 Guide for Conducting a Sensitivity Analysis for a Ground-Water Flow Model Application

    D5718 Guide for Documenting a Ground-Water Flow Model Application


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.060.10 (Water of natural resources)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    DOI: 10.1520/D6033-96R08

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