finding help when you need it

by Nate Hekman on June 23, 2008

Even with software as dead-simple to use as GeoStudio 😉 there will be times you need some help knowing how to get something accomplished.

Engineering Books

For a discussion of the theory behind the software, refer to the engineering books.

Each of the eight products (SLOPE/W, SIGMA/W, SEEP/W, etc) has its own book, with over a dozen chapters discussing everything from how to model, to practical modeling tips, to meshing, material properties, boundary conditions, analysis types, interpreting results, and more.

You received a hardcopy of the engineering books at the time the software was delivered to you, but the books are also installed on your computer as PDFs–you can access them from GeoStudio’s Start Page.

The engineering books were updated when we released version 7.1 since that release included many new features.  If you bought GeoStudio 2007 before April 2008 then those new features will not be included in the hardcopy book you have.  However, the books are also installed on your computer as PDFs, and those were updated at the same time you updated your software.

Online Help

The online help is the help window that pops up if you hit F1 in GeoStudio.  From anywhere in the software you can hit F1 to display a help topic describing the current mode, command, or dialog box. 

So what’s the difference between the engineering books and the online help?  I like to sum it up with this:

  • The engineering books help you understand how to model using GeoStudio.
  • The online help tells you what buttons to press and what numbers to fill in.

We very consciously chose not to write about the theory in the online help, or to write about specific dialog boxes or mouse clicks in the engineering books.  This makes the books an invaluable resource and educational tool even as the software continues to change from version to version, and keeps the online help as a lightweight quick reference. 


If you’re looking for an example on how to model a certain type of problem, search through our examples online.  We have hundreds of analyses available demonstrating various features, along with PDFs describing the approach.

For example, searching for “rapid drawdown” (go ahead, click the link to see the search results) gives me seven matches.  The fourth one down combines SLOPE/W and SIGMA/W using effective stress, which–what luck!–is just what I’m trying to do.  First I’ll read the PDF to see if it’s worth downloading:

Rapid Drawdown with Effective Stress.pdf

The PDF is eight pages long, with descriptive text, diagrams, figures and equations.  Perhaps it’s all I need to understand how to approach my own problem, or I can download the Gsz file right from the web site:

Rapid Drawdown with Effecive Stress.gsz


Tutorial movies are especially useful if you are new to a product.  In under twenty minutes (most of the time) the movie will walk you through creating a new analysis, defining the geometry, assigning materials and boundary conditions, solving, and looking at the results.

We currently have one movie per product.  If you’ve installed the Resource CD they are available from the GeoStudio Start Page.  They’re also on the web for everyone else.

The web site also has one additional movie (Function Estimation in SEEP/W 2007), and we hope to be adding more movies throughout the year.


I have found the Eng-Tips forums to be frequented by knowledgeable and experienced engineers.  Questions and answers are intelligent and professional, and there are often questions about how to model using a specific application, including SLOPE/W or other GEO-SLOPE products.

So if you have questions that aren’t answered in the engineering books or online help, you may want to consult your peers at one of these Eng-Tips forums:

Technical Support

Of course you can always email our support engineers.  We are very proud of the reputation we’ve gained for friendly expert support.  The Support section of our web page describes how to contact us.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }


rea giaschi 04.07.09 at 3:49 pm

Hi there
I just find some nice stuff on your blog, but I really need help considering
using spring node boundary in SIGMA/W .
I want to change some of my beam elements with spring, just to see the difference between those two results.
Please advise me how to do it or point me to some examples.
Thank you



Nate 04.08.09 at 8:53 am

Hello Rea. Your question is beyond my area of expertise. I would suggest you email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com in order to discuss it with an engineer familiar with stress analyses. I have also found the engineers who hang out at the forums are very knowledgeable and helpful, so you could ask your question there.

We do have a large number of example files on our web site, which may help you. Most of them include a pdf describing what they are demonstrating. You can search for “beams” and “spring” or other similar keywords and see if any of the results are helpful. Go to to search them.

I hope that helps!



Luis 08.28.12 at 6:20 pm

Dear Nate

congrats for the blog is very usefull.
We have a problem modeling some slopes with a totally use of the suite, I mean seep/w, Slope/W, sigma/W. the project require an evaluation of the slopes in rain conditions and when we run the analysis we have a message of error with this text (file to asing vectordefs(2). length to 0. error must be grather than 0 your value was 0) and we revised all the model and aparently everything is ok. wath’s the mening of this error, wich of the properties or boundary conditions could be wrong? help please.


Nate 08.29.12 at 8:09 am

Luis, I’d have to take a look at the file. Can you email it to me? First do a File – Save As and change the “Save as type” to “GeoStudio Compressed Excluding Solution” to make sure it’s small enough to email, then email the gsz file to hekman [at] geo-slope [dot] com.


woelandari fathonah 09.10.12 at 12:13 am

Mr. Nate .. sorry, i want to ask about geoslope .. what mean about slip surface radius and slip surface grid in software geoslope? Thank you very much mr nate.. please help me…


Nate 09.11.12 at 10:24 am

One way of defining a trial slip surface is by identifying a centre point and a radius. SLOPE/W will create a circular slip surface with that centre coordinate and radius. To define a large number of slip surfaces, you use a grid of centres (every point in the grid is used as the centre of one or more circles) and a range of radii.

Details are in the SLOPE/W engineering book “Stability Modeling with SLOPE/W”, chapter 4, available for free download here.


Sarah 11.11.12 at 1:43 am

dear Nate
I want to ask about Seep/w in geostudio 2007, for modeling toe drain in dam when i have foundation and water downstream of the dam.
do you have any examples like this?
I saw this example:
But it didn’t help me.
Thank you


Davor 07.08.15 at 2:24 am

Mr. Nate I have problem with modeling geomembrane i Geostudio-Slope-W. I dont want that wather comes into embankment (embankment must be dry). How I can modelate this in Slope-W


Nate Hekman 07.16.15 at 12:08 pm

@Davor: SLOPE/W does not model water movement/seepage, you simply specify pore water pressures. So do not assign any pore water condition to the region of the embankment, and the embankment will be ‘dry’. If you want to include water seepage, you can combine the SLOPE/W analysis with a SEEP/W analysis.


Mohammad 12.09.15 at 11:15 am

dear Nate
I want to model Geomembrane in SEEP, but i cant. I dont know how to model Geomembran in SEEP. can you help me?

thank you


Nate Hekman 12.11.15 at 10:44 am

@Mohammad: The free e-book “Seepage Modeling with SEEP/W” mentions geo-membranes briefly on page 53. Does that help?

I was hoping we would have some example files and/or youtube videos about geo-membranes, but I did a quick search and didn’t see any.

Your next option is to email support [at] geo-slope [dot] com with your question, where you’ll be connected with an engineer who will be better able to help.


Emad 02.07.16 at 6:06 am

Dear all
I’m going to process an embankment dam with geostudio SIGMA/W module. I want to know how can I be able to consider the effect of time in my processing? In the other words, after 10 or 15 years that dam construction has finished, how we can to predict the behavior of dam such as displacement in X or Y directions, total stress and so on?

All the best


Chris 02.10.16 at 12:05 pm

Hello Emad,

You will likely want to conduct a coupled stress and seepage SIGMA/W analysis. This will provide insight into the time-dependent deformation and stress changes due to changes in load and pore-water pressure. You can also analyze the stability of the structure at any point in the time history using the pore-water pressures and/or stresses from SIGMA/W.


isaac 05.14.16 at 6:19 am

Hi I am tasked with study the seismic response of a dam using seep/w, slope.w and sigma/w…

can you tell me how do i couple these 3 component together as im not sure which to go first and what to do first .. the steps if u don mind ‘



Chris 05.18.16 at 2:06 pm

Hello Isaac. There are various approaches available in GeoStudio. First, conduct a pseudo dynamic analysis using SLOPEW alone. Next, you could do a Newmark dynamic deformation using SLOPEW and QUAKEW. Finally, QUAKEW could be used to do a dynamic liquefaction analysis. SIGMAW would only be needed if you wanted to analyze post shaking deformation.


Ricardo Simplicio 10.26.16 at 7:37 am

Hello! I already have some experience with geoslope and have several jobs with this software! But now I had to analyze deformations and thus had to get me started with Sigma / w.

Well, in the first experiment, a simple calculation of total pressure, the graph of the total pressure does not appear as it should, but also presented the following video:
My graph shows deformations, as if the suction behavior.

Link to my file:

It a simple analisys, type Insitu.

I need a Help, Thank you!!


Nate Hekman 10.26.16 at 9:27 am

Hello Ricardo. Your question is beyond the scope of my knowledge, as I am a programmer, not an engineer. If you have a license with up-to-date maintenance, I suggest you go to and request Engineering Support.


Chris Kelln 10.26.16 at 2:22 pm

Hello Ricardo,

The analysis appears correct. The y-total stress graph needs to be rotated by selecting the ‘More’ drop-down | options and then choosing to rotate the graph 90 degrees. A plot of y-displacement correctly shows zero. Please feel free to contact support if you have additional questions.


Sangeeta 12.09.16 at 4:42 am

I’m facing some problem during interpretation of results ( QUAKE/W Nwmark Deformation Analysis). I would greatly appreciate it if you kindly give me some feedback on this


Nate Hekman 12.09.16 at 8:19 am

Hello Sangeeta. I suggest you go to and request Engineering Support.


Luis Bacellar 07.20.17 at 8:38 am

Dear Nate,
I’ m running VadoseW . When I select the option “exclude cumulative values from previous analysis” of a parent analysis, the total flow increases. I can´t understand why. There is nothing about this option in the Vadose book.
Best regards.
Luis Bacellar


Carla Gonçalves 07.20.17 at 6:49 pm

Dear Nate,

I have had many difficulties in interpreting the data generated by Vadose / w on cumulative flow. The View Result Information tool gives me the data for all nodes. Does the cumulative flow rate that this table show refer to my 366 day analysis period?

Best Regards.


Chris Kelln 07.21.17 at 9:00 am

The toggle to ‘exclude cumulative values’ means that the total water volumes for each analysis begin anew. A graph of the cumulative water volume recharging/discharging the domain over the duration of a specific analysis could have a positive slope (recharge) or a negative slope (discharge) on any given time step. If you have de-selected this option, you are only seeing the ‘net’ for that analysis.


tran 05.27.18 at 9:08 am

Dear sir!
it is correct to model the vacuum loading in Sigma/w using a negative pore-water pressure boundary conditions?

Best regards,


Nate Hekman 05.30.18 at 8:49 am

@tran: It looks like you’ve emailed our support team as well and your questions are being answered there. Thanks!

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>