Skip to main content

Unit information: Hydrogeology in 2020/21

Unit name Hydrogeology
Unit code EASC30065
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Mader
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit covers the principles of fluid, mass and energy transport operating within geologic formations, and applications of these principles to water resource and supply issues and contamination of ground waters. Adopting a quantitative approach, the unit provides a thorough treatment of both the theoretical background of the science as well as practical approaches to investigation of subsurface hydrology and contamination. The unit adopts a problem-based approach to learning, including a field characterisation of a karst aquifer and the impacts of sub-water table quarrying, and computer modelling of groundwater flow using MODFLOW.

The fieldtrip associated with the unit is compulsory. Failure to attend the field trip, unless valid documentation is presented, will result in loss of credit points for the unit and may lead to a requirement to withdraw from the degree programme.

The unit material ranges from descriptive to theoretical. To cope with the theory students need to be at ease with algebraic manipulations of equations and with basic calculus (as a guide, students at the start of the unit should expect to be able to differentiate a polynomial and understand the meaning of the function thereby obtained). Anything that goes beyond this level will be introduced carefully during the course before being applied to fluid flow.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, you will be able to:

  • describe and explain, both phenomenologically and mathematically, the key subsurface properties which determine storage and flow of groundwater (porosity, permeability and compressibility) and give expected ranges
  • interpret and critically evaluate maps of hydraulic head and predict rate and direction of groundwater flow
  • describe, manipulate and solve equations of fluid flow in 3D
  • understand key differences between single-phase and multi-phase fluid flow in porous media
  • interpret data from well tests to determine key aquifer properties or predict well yield and evaluate the significance of the values you obtain
  • describe, manipulate and solve equations of solute diffusion and dispersion in 3D
  • predict the rate of transport of solutes with and without retardation
  • model groundwater flow and contaminant transport in 3D

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials and, if subsequently possible, synchronous face-to-face lectures
  • synchronous office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative activities and exercises
  • guided, structured reading
  • practical work in the laboratory
  • fieldwork

Students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete laboratory or field work, or alternative activities, in person, either during the academic year 2020/21 or subsequently, in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit, prepare them for subsequent units or to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Assessment Details

Assessment for learning/Formative assessment coursework comprising:

  • a short essay (2 pages of text + 1 page of figures and references) on Mendip aquifer and water resources (introduced during the fieldtrip)
  • a report (3 pages + graphs) of the analysis of the Mendip pumping test data (started during one of the practicals)

Assessment of learning/Summative assessment End-of-unit timed open-book examination (100%)

Reading and References


  • Fetter C.W. Applied Hydrogeology, 2013, Pearson Education Ltd


  • Fetter C.W. Contaminant Hydrogeology, 2008, Waveland Pr Inc.
  • Domenico P.A. and Schwartz, F.W. Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology, Wiley