SEAWAT 2000: modelling unstable flow and sensitivity to discretization levels and numerical schemes

A. Al-Maktoumi, D. A. Lockington, R. E. Volker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A systematic analysis shows how results from the finite difference code SEAWAT are sensitive to choice of grid dimension, time step, and numerical scheme for unstable flow problems. Guidelines to assist in selecting appropriate combinations of these factors are suggested. While the SEAWAT code has been tested for a wide range of problems, the sensitivity of results to spatial and temporal discretization levels and numerical schemes has not been studied in detail for unstable flow problems. Here, the Elder-Voss-Souza benchmark problem has been used to systematically explore the sensitivity of SEAWAT output to spatio-temporal resolution and numerical solver choice. A grid size of 0.38 and 0.60% of the total domain length and depth respectively is found to be fine enough to deliver results with acceptable accuracy for most of the numerical schemes when Courant number (Cr) is 0.1. All numerical solvers produced similar results for extremely fine meshes; however, some schemes converged faster than others. For instance, the 3rd-order total variation-diminishing method (TVD3) scheme converged at a much coarser mesh than the standard finite difference methods (SFDM) upstream weighting (UW) scheme. The sensitivity of the results to Cr number depends on the numerical scheme as expected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1129
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2007


  • Grid sensitivity
  • Numerical modeling
  • Unstable flow
  • Convection


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