Illustrated Syllabus


Spring Semester 1998

This is the Syllabus for the last time I taught this course before retirement. See Departmental course listings for current offerings in groundwater hydrology.

Syllabus ( --this document)


Computer Lab Exercises

John Costain's Home Page

SAGE -- Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience

Department of Geological Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Quarter equivalent: GEOL 4110 Groundwater Hydrology

M W F 8:00 AM - 8:50 AM Derring Hall Room 1076
Instructor: John K. Costain
Professor Emeritus of Geophysics
1050 Derring Hall e-mail:
(540) 231-8912

Water Usage

Office hours: MWF 9-11:00 A.M., or by appointment, or at any mutually convenient time. Call me at 231-8912, or get in touch by e-mail (best way)

Required Textbook: Groundwater, by R. A. Freeze and J. A. Cherry, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1979. The course will concentrate on Chapter 2 (Physical Properties and Principles), Chapter 4 (Groundwater Geology), Chapter 5 (Flow nets - Section 5.1 -homogeneous isotropic systems only), Chapter 6 (Groundwater and the Hydrologic Cycle), Chapter 8 (Groundwater Resource Evaluation), and Chapter 11 (Groundwater and Geologic Processes).

Computer Exercises Lab Manual. Download exercises from Electronic Reserve. See link above.

Recommended reading: Applied Groundwater Modeling, by M.P. Anderson and W.W. Woessner, 1992, Academic Press, Inc., 379 pp. This book contains many practical design hints and guides to the modeling of groundwater problems, including excellent discussions of several widely used computer codes. If you want to become a serious groundwater modeler, you should have this in your library.

In this course, emphasis is placed on the physical principles of groundwater flow, and on the importance of the properties of water in groundwater flow at the present time as well as in the geologic past. For example, the temperature dependence of the viscosity of water, the compressibility of water, and the solubility of quartz in water as a function of temperature and pressure are examples of physical properties that will be discussed within the framework of geological applications.

Learn how to use many of the most widely used groundwater modeling programs! For the homework problems, we will use widely-used "canned" computer programs to examine groundwater flow, particle tracking, and full solute transport.

FLOWNET models two-dimensional steady-state saturated flow in a rectangular, inhomogeneous, anisotropic medium, and outputs both flow lines and equipotential lines. We will start off with this program because it is excellent tutorial software for visualizing recharge and discharge areas, groundwater divides, and simple geologic models that can be used to illustrate the tangent law as well as groundwater flow rates. We will also use software for modeling groundwater flow, particle tracking, and solute transport, including MODFLOW (McDonald and Harbaugh). Much of the input-output data manipulation associated with these "processing step" programs is made less tedious by "pre-processing" and "post-processing" software that is used to set up input data files and contour the results, thus allowing us to spend more time interpreting the data. We will use ModelCad and SURFER pre- and post-processing software. The large number of groundwater studies has prompted the generation of several computer applications intended for investigation of small hydrocarbon spills, such as those associated with underground storage tanks. SpillCAD is one such application and will be used in this course.

"Interpreting a pumping test is not a matter of feeding a set of field data into a computer, tapping a few keys, and expecting the truth to appear. The only computer codes with merit are those that take over the tedious work of plotting the field data and the type curves, and display them on the screen."<1>: Pump tests and other aquifer test procedures will be examined using Geraghty and Miller's QuickFLOW and AQTESOLVE, which is interactive menu-driven software for analyzing confined, semi-confined, and unconfined aquifers, and for performing recovery, slug, and fractured aquifer tests.

Prerequisites: Elementary physics and calculus. Differential calculus is more important in this course than integral calculus, but you should have had both. You don't need a separate course in differential equations. If you have not had elementary physics (where the concepts of force, pressure, velocity, etc. were introduced) or calculus, it is not recommended that you take this course. We will go through in detail several elementary derivations, one of which will be the fundamental differential equation for transient groundwater flow (the "diffusion equation").


Examination I: 20%

Examination II: 20%

Examination III: 20%

All of the above examinations must be taken; however, at the option of the student, and if all of the three exams have been taken, the lowest grade of the above three examinations can be replaced by doing a computer modeling exercise made up by the students and using software on the PC. This exercise is referred to as the"optional problem", and will be handed out near the end of the Semester. A successful completion of the exercise will be considered to be a grade of 100 %. All students who elect this option must do the same exercise. This exercise must be handed in no later than 5:00 P.M. on the last day of class. The optional problem will be handed out about two weeks before the end of classes.

Homework Problems : 20%

(Problems handed in late are not accepted for credit.)

The problems are downloaded by you from Problems are to be handed in before 5:00 P.M. on the day (each Friday) they are due. Starting with the first problem, there will be one computer problem due each Friday unless that Friday is one for which classes are officially canceled. Problems must be turned in at my office, Room 1050 Derring Hall, in the input box provided on the desk in my outer office (not on the wall outside my office). Please do not put them in my mailbox on the fourth floor or anywhere else except in the input box in Room 1050. Do not turn them in to me when you come to class. They must be turned in on time, and in Room 1050.

Final Examination: 20%

A= 100-90; B= 89-80; C= 79-70; D= 69-60; F= below 60

Exams missed without a valid excuse cannot be made up.

Examination Schedule

Exam 1 Wednesday February 4, 1998

Exam 2 Wednesday March 4, 1998

Exam 3 Wednesday April 8, 1998

Note: The material covered on the above exams is cumulative; i.e., Exam 2 might contain some of the same material as Exam 1. But the emphasis (80-90%) on Exam 2 will be on the material covered between Exam 1 and Exam 2, etc.

Final Examination: Friday, May 3, 1996 7:45 - 9:45 AM

The course content pretty much follows Freeze and Cherry, as noted below, with some additional handouts.

Chapter 2. Physical Properties and Principles

The First Few Lectures

2.1 Darcy's Law

modified Darcy apparatus

2.2 Hydraulic Head and Fluid Potential

2.3 Hydraulic Conductivity and Permeability

2.4 Heterogeneity and Anisotropy of Hydraulic Conductivity

2.5 Porosity and Void Ratio

2.6 Unsaturated Flow and the Water Table

water table

2.7 Aquifers and Aquitards

2.8 Steady-State Flow and Transient Flow

2.9 Compressibility and Effective Stress

2.10 Transmissivity and Storativity

2.11 Equations of Groundwater Flow

2.12 Limitations of the Darcian Approach

2.13 Hydrodynamic Dispersion

Chapter 3. Chemical Properties and Principles

Selected topics from:

3.8 Environmental Isotopes

Chapter 4. Groundwater Geology

4.1 Lithology, Stratigraphy, and Structure

4.2 Fluvial Deposits

4.3 Aeolian Deposits

4.4 Glacial Deposits

4.5 Sedimentary Rocks

4.6 Igneous and Metamorphic Rocks

4.7 Permafrost

Chapter 4a. Groundwater Geology (A Traverse across the Hydrogeologic Provinces of Virginia)

Hydrogeologic traverse

Chapter 5. Flow Nets

5.1 Flow Nets by Graphical Construction

5.3 Flow Nets by Numerical Simulation

Chapter 6. Groundwater and the Hydrologic Cycle

6.1 Steady-State Regional Groundwater Flow

Regional flow

6.3 Baseflow Recession and Bank Storage

6.8 Fluctuations in Groundwater Levels

Chapter 7. Chemical Evolution of Natural Groundwater

(Most of the water chemistry will be incorporated into handouts related to the hydrogeological provinces of Virginia. See Chapter 4a, above.)

7.1 Hydrochemical Sequences and Facies

7.3 Groundwater in Carbonate Terrain

7.4 Groundwater in Crystalline Rocks

Chapter 8. Groundwater Resource Evaluation

8.1 Development of Groundwater Resources

8.2 Exploration for Aquifers (One lecture)

8.3 The Response of Ideal Aquifers to Pumping

(Most of the following are done as computer homework problems.)

Pump test

Dirichlet boundary condition

The Real World

8.6 Measurement of Parameters: Pumping Tests

8.8 Prediction of Aquifer Yield by Numerical Simulation (1 lecture)

An illustration of the finite-difference numerical model MODFLOW is shown below. Although this figure appears here in the course outline, we will introduce the MODFLOW software in the first few weeks of the course, and use it in several problems.


8.10 Basin Yield (1 lecture)

8.12 Land Subsidence (1 lecture)

8.13 Seawater Intrusion (1 lecture)

10.1 Pore pressures, Landslides, and Slope Stability (1 lecture)

Computer Modeling Problem Set

Problem 1 - GERBIL (and introduction to computing facilities).

Problem 2. Modeling Regional Groundwater Flow: Cross section view using FLOWNET

Problem 3: MODFLOW. Modeling Regional Groundwater Flow -- Map Views


Problem 4 - The Different Kinds of Velocity in Groundwater Flow Problems: -- Changes in h in time and space.

Dispersive velocity

Problem 5. - A Groundwater Remediation Problem

Problem 6. - MODFLOW and FLOWNET and the effect of model boundary conditions on model results.

damhomeowner's dilemna

Problem 7. Effect of Hydrogeologic Boundaries and Principle of Superposition

Problem 8 - Effect of Hydrogeologic Boundaries (Bounded Aquifers) and the Principle of Superposition -- Two Barrier Boundaries (buried stream channel)

Problem 9 - Analysis of pump test data from confined, leaky-confined, and unconfined aquifers: determination of transmissivity, storativity, specific yield and hydraulic conductivity

Problem 10—Particle tracking and well design to contain a hydrocarbon spill (LNAPL)

Problem 11-Data Management and Decision Support for Hydrocarbon Spills

Problem 12— Will there be enough water to support the proposed housing development?

Proposed development

Problems must be turned in each Friday before 5:00 PM in Professor Costain's outer office, Room 1050 Derring Hall, in the input box labeled Homework Problems Geology 4114 provided on the desk in the outer office. Do not put them in the mailbox on the fourth floor or anywhere else except in the input box in Room 1050. Do not turn them in when you come to class. They must be turned in on time, before 5:00 PM each Friday, and in Room 1050.

Graded homework problems will be returned to you as soon as possible, hopefully the following week. I will try to keep your current Semester grade up to date on a weekly basis; however, this is a class that requires time management on your part as well as mine. Late homework problems are not accepted for credit. Neither are claims that a homework problem was turned in but that you didn't get it back, so please pick up only your own homework, not your friend's as well! Thanks. Of course, you may turn in problems early; however, they will not be returned until a week after the due date.

There are Pentium PCs in Room 1044 on the first floor (just down the hall from my office) in Derring Hall. This computer lab is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday; and we are working on a schedule to keep it open from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. There will be a schedule posted on the door. The lab will generally not be available on weekends. You cannot copy the programs and do them at home on your own PC. The programs are copyrighted; they are not academic (demo) versions but are full-blown commercially available versions of the software. Last Semester, the best time (least congestion) to do the problems was on a Monday or Tuesday. The worst time is on a Friday. Plan ahead!

<1> Kruseman and de Ritter, Analysis and Evaluation of Pumping Test Data, Second Edition, International Institute for Land Reclamation and Improvement, P.O. Box 45, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands, 1990.