BGS Technologies — Software

Please note: GISGroundwater is a legacy product and is no longer actively supported. It is made available under the BGS Software Disclaimer and downloaded at the users own risk.

GISGroundwater is an add-in to ArcGIS that models the depth to groundwater beneath the land surface. It calculates the elevation of the groundwater table for unconfined aquifers — permeable, water-bearing rocks that are open to the atmosphere. For aquifers that are confined by overlying impermeable rock, it calculates the elevation of the groundwater surface, i.e. the level groundwater will rise to in a borehole.

The tool is based on a mathematical model that simulates groundwater flow but is easy to use. The user provides information about a region using a series of GIS raster layers and shapefiles, which form the input to the model. For example, amongst other things, the user defines properties of an aquifer such as:

  • how permeable the rock is
  • the locations of rivers and pumping wells
  • the amount of rainfall seeping downwards to the water table from the land surface

On running the model, the tool adds a raster layer to the GIS project, which then plots the elevation of the groundwater level surface.

Wang, L, Jackson, C R, Pachocka, M, Kingdon, A. 2016. A seamlessly coupled GIS and distributed groundwater flow model. Environmental Modelling & Software, Vol. 82, 1–6.

Wang, L, Butcher, A S, Stuart, M E, Gooddy, D C, Bloomfield, J P. 2013. The nitrate time bomb: a numerical way to investigate nitrate storage and lag time in the unsaturated zone. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, Vol. 35(5), 667–681.

These data are delivered under the Open Government Licence, subject to the following acknowledgement accompanying the reproduced BGS materials: ‘Contains British Geological Survey materials © UKRI [year]’.


Please enter your details to download the BGS GISGroundwater files.


If you require further information, wish to report a problem with the software, or have suggestions about how to improve it, please contact the BGS GISGroundwater development team by e-mailing

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