The GeoClaw software for depth-averaged flows with adaptive refinement

Marsha J. Berger, David L. George, Randall J. LeVeque, Kyle T. Mandli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many geophysical flow or wave propagation problems can be modeled with two-dimensional depth-averaged equations, of which the shallow water equations are the simplest example. We describe the GeoClaw software that has been designed to solve problems of this nature, consisting of open source Fortran programs together with Python tools for the user interface and flow visualization. This software uses high-resolution shock-capturing finite volume methods on logically rectangular grids, including latitude-longitude grids on the sphere. Dry states are handled automatically to model inundation. The code incorporates adaptive mesh refinement to allow the efficient solution of large-scale geophysical problems. Examples are given illustrating its use for modeling tsunamis and dam-break flooding problems. Documentation and download information is available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1206
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Adaptive refinement
  • Depth-averaged equations
  • Finite volume methods
  • Hyperbolic equations
  • Numerical flow modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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