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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Applied Hydrogeology and Near Surface Geophysics (EASC10101)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHydrogeology, groundwater, is fascinating. Being able to understand where it comes from, how much there is, how the rocks and minerals influence its quality, how it flows through the ground is a skill set which is vital both from an environmental management perspective and for the maintenance and provision of a key resource to growing society today. From a ground engineering aspect, understanding groundwater flow and fluid pressure is essential.
Students will gain a knowledge that covers and integrates most of the principal areas, features, boundaries, terminology and conventions of applied hydrogeology and the application of near surface geophysical techniques for the characterisation of the subsurface. They will gain an understanding of the principal theories, concepts and principles behind the development of conceptual hydrogeological models. They will cover a range of standard techniques for the investigation of hydrogeological parameters. They will be knowledgeable and skilled in the use of numerical data to solve issues in hydrogeology and near-surface geophysics.
In addition they will be able to use both analytical and graphical techniques to predict the movement of groundwater and containment transport, as well as be able to produce water balances for catchment areas. Through group-based case studies on real life problems, which the students will present the applicability of the subject area, its use and its limit are demonstrated. Completing these projects will require the students to appreciate the distribution of groundwater in different hydrogeological environments, requiring a synoptic understanding of hard rock and surface geology, facies interpretation and material characteristics. Finally accompanying the lecture series, reference is made to the uncertainty particularly of conceptual models and their applicability.
As well as understanding the importance of different near surface deposits, and the controls on fluid flow movement it is important to be able to know which techniques can be applied from the surface to investigate both the structure and makeup of the subsurface and also identify remotely the location of contaminants. You will be given an overview of near surface geophysical techniques for aquifer characterisation and site investigation surveys. This will include the application of electromagnetic methods, including EM34, VLF, resistivity, self-potential and induced polarisation/complex resistivity methods, magnetic and gravity techniques, ground probing radar and near surface seismic refraction technics, and the utility of airborne techniques. The design of geophysical surveys for subsurface investigation will be covered (e.g. profile spacing, sampling rate along profile, depth of investigation of different techniques). Part of the assessment of this part of the course includes a practical component requiring data acquisition, modelling and interpretation. Prior to this, there is a formative assessment exercise based on a pre-existing dataset for one of the techniques used in the field.
Attendance at lectures, the fieldwork data acquisition afternoon and practical classes is expected and a register will be maintained.
Teaching will proceed via lectures, tutorials, and group work. Through group-based studies on real-world problems, students will gain experience in the applicability of the subject area, and the limitations of techniques.
Course description The following topics will be covered:
Introduction to Applied Geoscience
Soil description for Applied Geoscience
Aquifer Investigation Techniques.
Physical property contrasts.
Electromagnetic methods, including EM34, VLF.
Resistivity, self-potential and induced polarisation/complex resistivity methods.
Ground probing radar.
Seismic refraction.
Field data acquisition, processing and interpretation.
Groundwater Flow.
Groundwater Geochemistry.
Case studies for Groundwater Issues.
Modelling Groundwater Flow.
Contaminant Transport.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Geophysics International Field Course (EASC10111)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Weekly tutorials for discussion of voluntary class work and exercises accompanying lecture notes.
In class discussion of unclear points.
Weekly tutorials and test questions.
Student presentation.
Feedback on student essay making 10% of class mark.
Field course for sample description.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the impact of geology on groundwater flow and distribution, describe a geological material according to its engineering relevant characteristics (BS5930)
  2. Understand the geochemistry and the classifications of groundwater, key hydraulic parameters such as permeability, hydraulic conductivity, and how they relate to the material and fluid parameters
  3. Understand the key concepts of contaminant transport (diffusion, dispersion, sorption, decay) and use analytical solutions to model groundwater flow and mass transport
  4. Understand the application of near surface geophysical techniques for aquifer characterisation including application of Electromagnetic methods, including EM34, VLF, Resistivity, self-potential and induced polarisation/complex resistivity methods, magnetic techniques, gravity techniques and introduction to ground probing radar.
  5. Design geophysical surveys for subsurface investigation (e.g. profile spacing, sampling rate along profile). Field data acquisition, processing and interpretation.
Reading List
Binley, A. and Slater, L. (2020): Resistivity and Induced Polarization ¿ Theory and Applications to the Near-Surface Earth, Cambridge University Press
Freeze, R .A. and J.A. Cherry (1979): Groundwater.- Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs
Fetter, C.W. (2001): Applied Hydrogeology.- Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs
Fetter, C.W. (1993): Contaminant Hydrogeology. - Macmillan Publishing Company, New York; S. 458
Reynolds, J M, An Introduction to Applied and Environmental Geophysics, Wiley-Blackwell
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Chris McDermott
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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