Implementation of Solute Transport in the Vadose Zone into the "HYDRUS Package for MODFLOW"

Ground Water. 2019 May;57(3):392-408. doi: 10.1111/gwat.12815. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


The "HYDRUS package for MODFLOW" is an existing MODFLOW package that allows MODFLOW to simultaneously evaluate transient water flow in both unsaturated and saturated zones. The package is based on incorporating parts of the HYDRUS-1D model (to simulate unsaturated water flow in the vadose zone) into MODFLOW (to simulate saturated groundwater flow). The coupled model is effective in addressing spatially variable saturated-unsaturated hydrological processes at the regional scale. However, one of the major limitations of this coupled model is that it does not have the capability to simulate solute transport along with water flow and therefore, the model cannot be employed for evaluating groundwater contamination. In this work, a modified unsaturated flow and transport package (modified HYDRUS package for MODFLOW and MT3DMS) has been developed and linked to the three-dimensional (3D) groundwater flow model MODFLOW and the 3D groundwater solute transport model MT3DMS. The new package can simulate, in addition to water flow in the vadose zone, also solute transport involving many biogeochemical processes and reactions, including first-order degradation, volatilization, linear or nonlinear sorption, one-site kinetic sorption, two-site sorption, and two-kinetic sites sorption. Due to complex interactions at the groundwater table, certain modifications of the pressure head (compared to the original coupling) and solute concentration profiles were incorporated into the modified HYDRUS package. The performance of the newly developed model is evaluated using HYDRUS (2D/3D), and the results indicate that the new model is effective in simulating the movement of water and contaminants in the saturated-unsaturated flow domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Groundwater*
  • Hydrology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Solutions
  • Water Movements


  • Solutions