AlgoMesh is a software tool providing implementations of two complementary algorithms for generation of unstructured triangular and Voronoi grids. It incorporates a comprehensive, easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) to assist in the model-building process. AlgoMesh's primary focus as a model-building tool is producing input files for MODFLOW-USG, MODFLOW 6 and HydroGeoSphere™ simulations. However, its two-dimensional grid generation capabilities are quite general and it may be used as a powerful standalone mesh generator for any purpose. The following sections of this guide present a summary of the grid generation capabilities of AlgoMesh and its user interface functionality.
Finite-difference simulation code such as MODFLOW traditionally uses a structured, rectangular finite-difference grid to spatially discretise the model domain. With newer control-volume finite-difference (CVFD) formulations such as MODFLOW-USG (Panday et al., 2012), however, as well as with finite element simulation code, the use of prismatic unstructured grids is possible. In an unstructured grid – also called a mesh – model cells may be of different shapes, and of varying sizes and orientations. This gives several potential advantages over traditional structured grids.
First, cell geometry may be made to closely follow important geographical, geological, hydrological or man-made features, such as streams, lakes, wells, faults and mine boundaries. This enables a more accurate representation of the physical system being modelled, reducing one source of model errors and often mitigating convergence difficulties. Secondly, model resolution may be focused more heavily in areas that are identified as important in the conceptualisation phase, and reduced in other areas that are unlikely to significantly affect the model outputs. This has the effect of reducing errors due to discretisation (where resolution is increased), while at the same time allowing faster model run times by reducing resolution where it is not needed, or indeed even removing cells entirely from areas that are unneeded in the model. Finally, the flow faces between model cells may be aligned to more accurately represent directions of preferential flow, which can be beneficial when incorporating surface water components such as two-dimensional river flow in an integrated or coupled model.
Building an unstructured grid to make the most of these advantages is not trivial, however. A grid for a typical model may contain hundreds of thousands or millions of cells, and in general, producing such a grid manually is not practical. Algorithms and software tools are needed to automate the creation of grid cells that are sized and shaped appropriately to input constraints provided by the modeller. AlgoMesh provides such tools, greatly simplifying the building of unstructured grid models.
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