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My water department has asked me about visualization of groundwater plume models. I have no idea where to start. All the links refer me to Cameo/Aloha but these are for Atmospheric modeling as far as I can see. Has anyone any experience with point source plumes in groundwater? I guess the models are similar to those from atmospheric contamination models but I also need to understand which variables are necessary for a successful model.

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What kind of data do you have access to? Do you have any experience in Hydrology? These can be complicated mathematical formulas. For starters from my limited knowledge, you would need: contours, hydraulic head, conductivity, types of soil, bedrock, etc etc. measuring ground water flow – GISKid Dec 16 '13 at 20:06
I have very little knowledge about hydrology. The scientists in the water department have asked me about software. I am the GIS Administrator so I am researching about visualization software not really about methodology - although I would definately need the understand the basics. – Robert Buckley Dec 16 '13 at 20:10
Alright, Spatial Analyst would be a good start. There is definitely other pluming software out there but it all depends on the accuracy of your data. – GISKid Dec 16 '13 at 20:13
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ground water modelling is generally not visualized within what most people would consider to be GIS software. The more common term in the field is simulation software.

Now, the software you would use would very much depend on exactly what you are trying to do. For example, you might use MODFLOW (USGS) to solve the advection-dispersion equation and MT3D for solute transport. Many hydrogeologists resort to hand-drawing plumes based on well chemistry data.

As mentioned in the comments, ArcGIS does provide some groundwater functionality through Spatial Analyst, but this isn't nearly as comprehensive as custom simulation software.

More info based on comments:

You could display this as a raster in ArcGIS, although I'm not sure if this would be a great end-product.

1) Merge your table so that you have all of the data in one sheet (x, y, other columns),

2) Add the table (as a CSV) to ArcMap,

3) right-click on the table and 'Display X, Y',

4) Export the output of this process to a shapefile.

You will now have a point shapefile. You can then interpolate this, using your level of contamination field, to a raster surface using a tool like 'IDW'.

You don't mention any Z coordinates, so I'm assuming here you only plan to display your plume in 2D space.

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As an update to this question I have the following new information. The water authority has a self-made Excel document which describes a plume formation. Each cell represents a geographic extent of 25m. the x coordinate of these cells are in table 1, the y coordinate in table 2, and the levels of contamination are contained in the other tables. This means they have basically made their own excel GIS map where each cell center is 25m from the next - representing of course a 25m point cloud. My job will be to move this data into a GIS. – Robert Buckley Dec 17 '13 at 13:17
See edits for some simple suggestions. – Radar Dec 17 '13 at 16:18

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