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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Hydrogeological Environments and Characterisation (PGGE11278)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course develops the students understanding of hydrogeological environments, recognising how different geological settings influence subsurface flow characteristics. The course provides a practical introduction to the main characterisation and analysis techniques, with an emphasis on applying current concepts, methods and technologies for ground water resource assessment in the context of different applied problems.
Course description Hydrogeologists study the subsurface flow of water and its interaction with the surrounding geology and applying this understanding to practical uses such as wells for drinking water, pollution monitoring and clean-up and harnessing geothermal energy. They are at the forefront of many of today┐s important issues including sustainable water supply, food and energy production, environmental protection and climate change.

The course lectures which develop the students┐ knowledge base with advancing concepts that are supported by practical field sessions, laboratory tests, analysis and report writing aimed at developing technical, interpretation and reporting skills and encourage critical thinking. Integration of the concepts developed in the taught programme is facilitated through student centred investigations of current issues linked to a range of hydrogeological environments. The students will develop a sound understanding of the geological controls on groundwater hydraulics, and the full range of laboratory and field tests to characterise the hydrogeological environments within the subsurface.

Proposed course outline:

Unit 1: Fluid Flow in Aquifers and Aquicludes. The students learn to identify what type of aquifer or aquitard is present and evaluate the key flow characteristics. The lecture content will include:

How to characterise a porous aquifer;

How to characterise a porous aquifer;

How to characterise a fractured porous aquifer;

What key features control the flow of fluid?

What key features control the flow of fluid distribution of contamination?

Unit 2: Applied groundwater Hydrochemistry. The students learn to identify the geochemistry and reactivity within the hydrological system. The lecture content will include:

pH, EC, Solubility of Solids and Gasses, REDOX

Solution and precipitation

Mixing of Groundwaters

Adsorption and Ion Exchange

Carbonate System

Silicate System

Sulphate System

Fe Stability


Application of PIPER & Stiff Diagrams

Unit 3: Groundwater in the field. The students learn to relate aquifer permeability to heterogeneity and evaluate appropriate GW field sampling techniques. The lecture content will include:

Heterogeneity and how it influences flow;

How it can measured in the field;

Representative elemental volumes statistical measurements of heterogeneity.

Unit 4: Hydrogeological Environments. The students will understand, interpret and evaluate a wide range of different geological scenarios and environments and relate these geological and sedimentological controls to groundwater flow and chemistry. The lecture content will include:

Unconsolidated Aquifers

Glaciated terrane

Alluvial valleys

Alluvial in tectonic Valleys

Aeolian deposits

Consolidated Sedimentary Rocks





Volcanic Rocks

Crystalline Rocks

Locality Specific


Arid and Semi-arid

Coastal Plain

Oceanic Islands

Unit 5: Fresh Water - Saline Water Relationship. The students will appraise the dynamic freshwater / marine hydrological environment. The lecture content will include:

Mathematical relationships to appraise

Active and passive saline water encroachment and

Tidal effects. This topic will be covered in week 6 by CMcD and include lectures with tutorial and exercises to consolidate their learning.

Unit 6: Industrial Legacy (Coal, Shale, Ironstone, Mineral). The students will evaluate the impact of our industrial legacy on groundwater resources. The lecture content will include:

A case study of the Almond Catchment;


Geochemistry of mine water releases &

Treatment technologies.

Unit 7: Urban-Hydrogeology. The students will evaluate the impact of the urban environment on the hydrogeology. The lecture content will include:

Altered water balances;

Hydrogeological issues;

Recharge from sewers;

Case studies;

Holistic modelling approaches &


Unit 8: Characterisation Techniques. The students will appraise the methods and technologies for subsurface characterisation to select different characterisation techniques to evaluate subsurface fluid flow and evaluate their suitability in different hydrogeological environments in the context of different applied problems. The lecture content will include:

Basin analysis;

Soil descriptions;

Fracture analysis;

Well testing &

Well logs and formation evaluation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesBasic knowledge of geology and maths to satisfaction of CO
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Predict the key flow characteristics within aquifers or aquitards.
  2. Evaluate different geological settings and scenarios and relate these to ground water flow characteristics.
  3. Appraise the relationships between aquifer permeability and heterogeneity and design appropriate field sampling techniques.
  4. Recognise and appraise the most suitable characterisation techniques to evaluate subsurface fluid flow in different hydrogeological environments in the context of different applied problems.
  5. Prepare a hydrogeology assessment report to industry standard guidelines.
Reading List
Freeze, R.A. and Cherry, J.A. Groundwater

Fetter, C.W. Applied Hydrogeology

Weight, W.D. Practical Hydrogeology: Principles and Field Applications

Singhal, B.B.S and Gupta, R.P. Applied hydrogeology of fractured rocks.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will equip our graduates with a wide range of skills including;

A good level of mathematical, analytical and modelling skills.

Problem solving and practical hands on skills.

Capacity to evaluate complex data and to extrapolate conclusions from incomplete data.

Critical and reflective thinkers, some subsurface technologies are controversial, all require expert knowledge to assess independently.

Organised with good project management skills and a flexible approach to work.

Skilled communicators, both oral and written

Ability to work well within a team
Course organiserDr Chris McDermott
Course secretaryMrs Kathryn McPhail
Tel: (0131 6)51 4351
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