Feflow or Modflow? A recurrent question

Once again I had a crush with the question whether Feflow or Modflow. I think this question is related to how bad are we selling environmental services and environmental software.

It is a matter of faith

There is a lot of faith on numerical models and numerical software. People believe in the magical software that can “think”, make conceptual models and solve all problems

Feflow or Modflow?

Both softwares are good. My experience is mostly with MODFLOW, which is technically a good tool for representing the main characteristics of the groundwater flow regimen. If you want more technical stuff about MODFLOW please read:


About the advantages of Feflow, the WASY staff can give their reasons.

Bad marketing

As we said, both softwares are good. One is commercial and the other is an open source. We don’t know how it happened to hear this phrases.

  • “Modflow is good, but it is old”: Wrong. MODFLOW 2005 is the latest version of MODFLOW, but it has been updated serveral times.
  • “Feflow makes robust models”: What is “robust” and what does it mean? Does it mean that is better constructed, or have more accuracy on the solutions. It is verified under scientific research.
  • “Feflow can model fractures”: Based on what we know, or what we don’t know about fractures, fractures are located on the dark side of the hydrogeological understanding. We can have some data that show the “behaviour” of fractures, but we cannot have the data that can characterize the hydrogeological behavior of fractures (meaning on a statistical approach).

So Feflow or Modflow?

Both are good, but the use of the software is not the factor that assures a good hydrogeological model, you need experience and good resources, don’t forget to have a coffee machine as well.

You have to try to avoid the “magic” of the software and think deeply about the benefits and limitations of it.

If you want to have a numerical nirvana, search for OpenFOAM and FLOWTRAN.

Saul Montoya

Saul Montoya es Ingeniero Civil graduado de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú en Lima con estudios de postgrado en Manejo e Ingeniería de Recursos Hídricos (Programa WAREM) de la Universidad de Stuttgart con mención en Ingeniería de Aguas Subterráneas y Hidroinformática.

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