A hybrid approach to flow net generation


flow nets, finite elements, stream function, particle tracking, flow lines, seepage modelling


By following a simple set of rules, a flow net can be manually constructed to obtain a graphical solution to the Laplace equation for simple two‐dimensional (2‐D) flow problems. With the advent of numerical solutions such as the finite difference and finite element methods, it is more common to generate a flow net automatically using the nodal head and flow values output by the computer program. Two methods have been published for automatically generating flow nets from finite element solutions: the stream‐function method and the particle‐tracking method. The stream‐function method works well for many cases, but it does not work for problems with holes in the mesh or internal sources or sinks. The particle‐tracking method works for all cases, but previously published algorithms that utilize this method do not result in the properly sized flow channels. A new approach is presented in this paper that is a hybrid of the stream‐function and particle‐tracking approaches. This method works for all cases and generates the properly sized flow channels.

Original Publication Citation

Jones, Norman L., Alan M. Lemon, and Fred T. Tracy, "A hybrid approach to flow net generation,"International Journal of Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics,Vol. 25, pp. 1339-1349, Sept. 2001.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Civil and Environmental Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor