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An extention of the Standard Boussnesq Approach

Adam Szyma
Environment Protection Program
Technical Report

We consider a closed-form solution to the nonlinear two-point boundary value problem,
vx (x, z)(

dh 2
) +k
+ vx (x, z) = 0,


h(0) = HS ,


h(L) = HE ,


Vc (0, HS )
Vc (0, HE )


where: x [0, L], [0, 1], HE z HS , z = h(x), Vc (x, z) = [vx (x, z)2 + vz (x, z)2 ]1/2 . We define the functions
vx (x, z) and vz (x, z) as follows,
vx (x, h(x)) = 0.5kb(a + bx)1/2 ,
0 vx (x, h(x)) 0.5k,


vx (x, h(x)) 2 1/2

) ] ],
where: a > 0, b < 0 are unknown real constants, and k, L, HS , HE are known real constants greater than zero.
The boundary value problem (1 7) presents an extension to the Standard Boussinesq Approach (SBA) and
describes the groundwater flow on the free-surface of an unconfined aquifer. We call it the Extended Boussinesq
Approach (EBA).
vz (x, h(x)) = 0.5k[1 + [1 4(


In the report we consider the steady state flow in a homogeneous, isotropic, unconfined aquifer represented by a 2-D
vertical slab of length L, bounded by two-constant-head boundary conditions HS and HE . Relation (1) describes the
exact nonlinear differential equation governing the horizontal Darcy velocity component vx (x, h(x)) of the groundwater
flow at the free-surface elevation, where the function vx (x, h(x))) is defined by (5), and the unknown function h(x)
presents the geometrical location of the free-surface elevation. The coefficient k denotes the spatially constant saturated
hydraulic conductivity. Relation (6) shows that the horizontal Darcy velocity component should be bounded. The
physical explanation of (6) is presented by Szyma
nski (2011). The existence of the bottom of an aquifer is described by
the dimensionless coefficient . In terms of (17) the SBA based on the Dupuit assumption is treated as an approximation
for the regional gradient m = (HE H
approaching zero as the limit. The detailed description of SBA is presented by
Bear (1979). However, it is not always clear when the SBA will faithfully reproduce the physical phenomena that one
attempts to model. Thus, in this report we follow the line presented by Baiocchi and Capelo (1984) and develop such
an extension of SBA that allows the regional gradient to be considered as a small, finite quantity. Formally, it means
that the vertical Darcy velocity component vz (x, h(x)) does always exist in contrary to the SBA, where vz (x, h(x)) 0.
Thus, the EBA is physically consistent. The present report is organized as follows: in section 2 we rediscussed some basic
issues related to the SBA. In section 3 we demonstrate the closed-form solution of the boundary value problem proposed,
and in section 4 an application of the Weierstrass Approximation Theorem in hydrology is shown. Finally, in section 5
conclusions are drawn.

Standard Boussinesq Approach

Let us consider the linearized version of the two-point boundary value problem (1 7) in the following form,

+ vx (x, z) = 0,


h(0) = HS ,


h(L) = HE ,




where: x [0, L], HE HS , z = h(x), and the function vx (x, z) and vz (x, z) are given by,
vx (x, h(x)) = 0.5kb(a + bx)1/2 ,


vz (x, h(x)) 0,


where: a > 0, b < 0 are unknown real constants. The solution of the problem (8 13) can be find in a closed form,
h(x) = (a + bx)1/2 ,


(H 2 H 2 )

where: a = HS2 , and b = E L S . Note in passing that (14) is the positive solution of (8 13). By the positive solution
of (8 13) we understand a function h(x) which is positive on 0 x L and satisfies the differential equation (8) and
boundary conditions (9, 10, 11). Additionally, d dx
< 0 for x [0, L] and the graph of (14) is convex upwards. We refer to
the problem (8 13) as the SBA. The solution (14) is well known in groundwater hydrology. For the detailed description
of the practical importance of the SBA the reader is refereed to Troch et al. (2013). From the heuristic point of view, the
SBA is assumed to be valid in mildly sloping aquifers characterized by nearly horizontal flow conditions. This assertion is
based on the flow being slowly-varying in the x-direction, and the pressure being nearly hydrostatic. However, it is clear
that the regional gradient m should be treated as an arbitrarily small quantity approaching zero as a limit to make the
SBA consistent. Thus, the relations (14), and (12) should be considered as an approximation for describing the flow on
the free-surface of groundwater. Unfortunately, (14) has recently been used for checking MODFLOW-NWT model (see
Niswonger et al.(2011)).

Extended Boussinesq Approach

Let us now describe the basic difference between the SBA and the EBA. It is easy to observe that the solution of SBA
formally exists for an arbitrary value of the regional gradient m 0. In the case of EBA there exists an admissible set of
values for the regional gradient that depends on the geometrical characteristics of an aquifer. It means that if a regional
gradient considered for predicting the flow in an aquifer does not belong to the above-mentioned set, the solution of EBA
does not exist. From the physical point of view the following assumptions are required:
1. the regional gradient m is considered to be finite and sufficiently small i.e, |m|  1,
2. the value z = 0, which is treated as a horizontal impervious bottom of an aquifer, is only used as a reference datum for
the definition of potential energy, and
3. the components of the infiltration/exfiltration velocity at the free-surface elevation have been assumed to be equal to
The assumption |m|  1 is related to the relation (5), because the considered boundary value problem (1 7) should be
seen as a correction of the SBA. The physical meaning of the second assumption can be explained in the following way.
We are interested to develop the model using parameters related to flow characteristics at the free-surface elevation. In
this way we only need an information that the bottom of an aquifer does exist, but we are not obliged to consider the
exact value for the parameter HS (a characteristic depth of an aquifer). For the description of the bottom of an aquifer
the idea of a kinematic deepness is introduced. We call the coefficient the kinematic deepness of an aquifer (cf., (11)).
From the formal point of view can also be considered as a parameter describing the kinematic characteristics at the
free-surface. Using the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus the solution of (1) takes the form

1 x
h(x) =
[k/vx (, h())] 1 + 1 4(vx (, h()) /k)2 d + HS ,
2 0
where an integration constant has been determined by the boundary condition (2). From (5) follows that
(i.e., vx (x, h(x)) is a strictly increasing function). Furthermore, we can show that
graph of the free-surface elevation (15) is convex upwards.

d h(x)

vx (x,h(x))


< 0 for x [0, L]. Thus, the


Solution of EBA

Inserting (5) into (15) we obtain,

h(x) =

2 2
b [(a + bx)3/2 a3/2 (a b2 + bx)3/2 + (a b2 )3/2 ] + HS .


Next, using (16) and (3) we obtain the first equation needed for determining the unknown coefficients a and b. The second
one is obtained by means of (4). Finally, we have
F1 (c1 , f1 ) = 0,


F2 (c1 , f1 ) = 0,


(c1 + f1 f12 )3/2 + (c1 f12 )3/2 (3/2)mf12 ,



F1 (c1 , f1 ) = (c1 + f1 )3/2 c1

F2 (c1 , f1 ) = 2 {1 [1 f12 /(c1 + f1 )]1/2 } 1 + [1 f12 /c1 ]1/2 ,

L2 ,



and f1 =
where: c1 =
The parameters of the nonlinear system of equations (17, 18) are m and . The unknowns are c1 and f1 . Of course, one
can use the Newton-Raphson method to find the solution of (17, 18) with appropriate accuracy. Unfortunately, it is not
the most efficient method. Thus, we want to present here the new technique which is more effective.


1-D bracketing search method

The basic idea of our method is to reduce the dimension of the system (17, 18), so that the 1-D bracketing search method
can be used. From the relation (18) follows that,
D = f1 /c1 = (C 1 + M2 )/(1 C),


M2 = f12 /c1 ,


C = [(2 1 + (1 M2 )1/2 )/2 ]2 .


1 = (1.5m)2 D2 M2 /[(1 + D)3/2 1 (1 + D M2 )3/2 + (1 M2 )3/2 ]2 ,


0 < M2 < (1 H),



Using the relation (17) one obtains,

2 2

H = (1 ) .


The equation (24) can be considered as the 1-D form of the system (17, 18). Indeed, having M2 as a solution of the
equation (24) we obtain the equivalent form of the system (17, 18) as follows,
f1 = D c1 ,


f12 = M2 c1 .


Of course, for solving (24) the 1-D bracketing search method should be used.


Solution of EBA for = 1

The solution of the boundary value problem (1 - 7) for = 1 can be find in a closed form. The free-surface elevation is
given by
h(x) = mx + HS ,
and the Darcy velocity components are calculated as follows,
vx (x, h(x)) =

1 + m2


vz (x, h(x)) =

1 + m2


Weierstrass Approximation

Let us now assume that the appropriate approximation of the free-surface elevation was obtained using GPR method.
In this case, combining the relations (29), (30) and (31) with the well-known Weierstrass Approximation Theorem one
obtains the numerical method for calculating the velocity field on the free-surface of groundwater.

Summary and Conclusions

The Standard Boussnesq Approach has been extended to incorporate the vertical flow conditions induced by the existence
of the free-surface elevation in unconfined aquifers. The proposed model is suitable for predicting the geometrical location
of the free-surface elevation, and both velocity components at the free-surface. It is a nonlinear model that is based on
the flow characteristics at the free-surface elevation. In our method there is no need to use any linearization procedure
with respect to the boundary conditions at the free-surface, and the closed-form solution is obtained. The model is
characterized by two parameters, namely; regional gradient m and the so-called kinematic deepness of an aquifer denoted
by . Recently, we have used the method presented above for checking the FEFLOW model (see Szyma
nski (2014)).


Baiocchi, C., Capelo, A., 1984. Variational and Quasivariational Inequalities Application to Free Boundary Problems,
John Wiley, New York.
Bear, J., 1979. Hydraulics of Groundwater, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Niswonger, R.G., Panday, Sorab, and Ibaraki, Motomu, 2011. MODFLOW-NWT, A Newton formulation for MODFLOW2005: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6A37, 44 p.
nski, A., 2011. Darcy velocity on the free surface, EPP technical report.
nski, A., 2014. Our Problems Connected With FEFLOW, EPP technical report.
Troch, P. A., et al. (2013), The importance of hydraulic groundwater theory in catchment hydrology: The legacy of
Wilfried Brutsaert and Jean-Yves Parlange, Water Resour. Res., 49, 50995116, doi: 10.1002/wrcr.20407.