Piecewise-continuous boundaries using the MODFLOW FHB and MT3DMS HSS packages

It is often necessary to simulate the influx to a groundwater model of water containing dissolved contaminants. Until fairly recently, users of MODFLOW and MT3DMS were restricted to varying the flux of water and contaminants on a stress-period basis: when a time-varying loading pattern required simulation, the modeler's only recourse was to discretize the model into many stress periods. From a practical standpoint this is cumbersome, while from a technical standpoint it requires that the modeler define a priori an appropriate time discretization that can accurately reproduce time-varying flow and mass loading. This is particularly undesirable when attempting to infer a time-varying flow or mass loading using inverse methods. The advent of the Flow and Head Boundary (FHB) package in the late 1990s greatly mitigated these limitations from the flow perspective. The recent release of the Hydrocarbon Spill Source (HSS) package for MT3DMS has essentially removed the limitation from the contaminant mass perspective. This Methods Note verifies the FHB and HSS packages by comparison with more commonly used boundary packages and highlights some benefits of their combined use, with reference to the reconstruction of historic flow and mass fluxes through inverse modeling. (Note: The Flow and Head Boundary and Hydrocarbon Spill Source packages are referred to throughout as "FHB" and "HSS", respectively,--that is, omitting version number suffixes--as the discussion presented should apply to all releases of each package.).