Geology 474

GEOL 474

Catalog Entry

GEOL 474. Hydrogeology
Three hours lecture; two hours laboratory (4).

Prerequisites: GEOL 105; and either GEOL 100 or GEOL 106; MATH 151; or permission of the instructor. Minimum of one semester of physics is strongly recommended.

A qualitative and quantitative study of groundwater availability and movement, and the development of groundwater as a resource. Included will be pertinent geologic and engineering aspects of groundwater flow and the effect of man on the groundwater regime. Laboratory includes a field investigation.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The content of this course consists of fundamentals of surface and subsurface water movement and water quality. It is comparable to the standard introductory course in hydrogeology given at most universities and follows the general scope and sequence of topics in the leading undergraduate textbooks on the subject.

The first quarter of the course encompasses the hydrologic cycle and surficial water. The remainder of the course is an in-depth study of groundwater. Emphasis is placed on fundamental principles and the physics and mathematics of flow of water through channels and porous media. Practical applications are presented as an introduction to water- resource investigation, including solving problems in water availability and exploration.

The laboratory part of the course emphasizes the analysis of experimental data and the assimilation of results into well-organized reports with graphical and quantitative representations.

The following topics are covered in this order:

  • Hydrologic cycle; Water budget
  • Precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, interception
  • Streamflow and runoff
  • Channel hydraulics
  • Infiltration; Classification of groundwater; Soil moisture
  • Porosity, permeability, hydraulic conductivity
  • Aquifers
  • Energy; Hydraulic head; Darcy's Law
  • Equations of groundwater flow
  • Potentiometric surfaces; Flow nets; Refraction; Steady flow
  • Groundwater flow to wells
  • Regional groundwater flow
  • Geology of groundwater occurrence
  • Water chemistry
  • Water quality and groundwater contamination


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course emphasizes quantitative methods. This includes problem solving, unit conversions, graphing of data, and written analysis and conclusions. Lectures present the various principles of water flow and develop the theoretical basis for each topic. Problems assigned in class, from the course textbook and as handouts, reinforce these concepts. Problems involve an understanding of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The student is expected to spend a substantial amount of time solving the assigned problems. An understanding of the principles and the ability to use the appropriate mathematics is essential for success on the examinations. The problem sets are graded.

Laboratory sessions also emphasize problem solving. There is at least one fieldtrip to local hydrogeological sites. Fieldtrips focus on both the natural hydrogeologic processes and environmental problems. Laboratory work is graded.

A research paper is assigned for the semester. A topic in hydrogeology is chosen by the student who must then search the technical literature for relevant and recent material to be included in a bibliography. The paper is graded on technical content, writing style and grammar, depth of coverage, clarity, relevance to the course, organization, continuity, and neatness.

Practical applications of the principles and theories of hydrogeology are included wherever possible in the lecture, in the assigned problems, in the laboratory, and on the fieldtrips. This gives the student an appreciation of the environmental problems prevailing in today's world.

Modern analytical techniques are introduced throughout the course. These include computer modeling, computer graphics, and chemical analyses.


Goals and Objectives of Course

1. Students will better understand the scope and complexities of the study of surface and groundwater.
2. Students will learn the theory of water flow through the derivation of the most significant equations and mathematical relationships. They will appreciate both the applications and limitations of these equations.
3. Students will develop analytical techniques through problem solving. They will appreciate detailed, quantitative problem solving and develop an understanding of state-of-the art quantitative techniques such as computer modeling and chemical analysis of water samples.
4. Students will use experimental laboratory and field techniques. They will learn how the theory is applied by practicing hydrogeologists towards real problems in various geologic settings.
5. Students will come to understand the needs of society for qualified hydrogeologists to help prevent and mitigate environmental problems. They will become familiar with the role of the hydrogeologist in the planning process during economic growth and development.


Assessment Measures

The student is evaluated in every aspect of his or her work. There are three or four major examinations in the course. These include short-answer questions, brief written explanations, and quantitative problems to solve. Homework problem sets, laboratory exercises, and the research paper are graded. The attitude, preparation, and participation of the student in class and on fieldtrips is assessed as well.


Other Course Information

1. GEOL 474 is a required course for the Environmental and Engineering Geoscience Concentration for a B.S. degree in geology.
2. Bibliography:

  • Domenico, P. A. and Schwartz, F. W., 1990, Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 824 p.
  • Fetter, C. W., Jr., 2001, Applied Hydrogeology (fourth edition), Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 598 p.
  • Freeze, R. A. and Cherry, J. A., 1979, Groundwater, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 604 p.
  • Dingman, S. L., 1984, Fluvial Hydrology, W. H. Freeman and Company, New York, NY, 383 p.


Approval and Subsequent Reviews

Date Action Reviewed by
August 2005 Reviewed and Approved Stephen W. Lenhart, Chair