The Analytical Element Method (AEM)
What is AEM? AEM Applications
Why Use AEM? McLane Environmental AEM Projects

McLane Environmental routinely uses Analytical Element Method (AEM) models to develop and test conceptual models and to perform hydraulic analyses for a wide range of groundwater projects.

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What is AEM?

AEM is a “new” way of groundwater modeling. It has been around for decades, but recent advances have brought it to the forefront of simple to use, but powerful, modeling techniques.

The AEM is a mathematical approach to solving groundwater flow model equations that results in exact solutions and does not require discretization of areas or volumes throughout the model domain. Analytical solutions for individual hydraulic features (well, river segment, infiltration basin) can be superimposed to obtain more complex solutions.

A collection of instructional materials, tutorials, tools, and training courses that provide extensive information on AEM and the latest tools and modeling techniques related to AEM can be found at

Why use AEM? Because it is flexible, fast, and scalable.

AEM is a flexible, well-tested way to model hydrogeologic systems. It incorporates all key processes and features (multiple layers, aquifer anisotropy, transient simulations) and produces solutions that are identical to standard numerical codes such as MODFLOW.

The method can be easily used to develop simulations more quickly than conventional modeling techniques. Boundaries and hydraulic features can be drawn as simple polylines, and no grid setup is required.

In the cases where a more conventional model is needed, the AEM can be used to quickly compare differing conceptual models to determine the best modeling approach. AEM is the basis for the efficient “stepwise modeling” approach. Different conceptual models and computer model configurations can be quickly compared to determine the best modeling approach.

AEM Applications Heterogeneous Aquifers
Anisotropic Aquifers
Multi-Aquifer Systems
Steady or Transient Conditions
Fractured and Faulted Aquifers
Saltwater Interface Modeling
Cross-Sectional Modeling
Soil Vapor Extraction Modeling
Remediation Designs
Construction Dewaterting
Capture Zone Analysis
Mine Hydrology
Aquifer Test Analysis
Infiltration Bed Design
Hundreds of other applications