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

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Site Assessment Project: A Field and Modelling Investigation (PGGE11281)

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
SummaryIn this course students conduct a hydrogeological environmental site assessment of a real field site with a hands-on project involving each phase of a typical site assessment (i.e., desktop, field, modelling investigations) with a specific focus on learning to integrate field- and modelling investigations to develop a holistic understanding of hydrogeological systems. The first part of the course students learn the environmental site assessment process and will conduct a desktop investigation of the project site. The second involves a mix of learning field measurement techniques and field-site visits to characterise the project site. Finally, students implement their collected field data into an industry-standard commercial groundwater modelling package, learn to use geostatistical methods to fill gaps in their field data and account for field-measurement uncertainties. At the end of this course students will present their environmental site assessments in a professional written report.
Course description Provide an academic description, and outline of the content covered by the course and a description of the learning experience students can expect to get.

While hydrogeology topics are often taught in isolation from one another, environmental site assessments and investigations require hydrogeologists to synthesize information from a broad range of topics and sources, including both field and modelling data. This is not straightforward as numerical models require precise information on the distribution of parameters across a site (e.g., permeability) yet field-investigations rely on techniques such as boreholes and pump-tests to produce point-source estimates of these parameters with large gaps between measurement points. As a result, synthesizing both field and modelling data to develop a holistic understanding of a groundwater system requires an understanding of their respective limitations and sources of uncertainties as well as the use of geostatistical techniques to interpolate between measurement points.

In this course, students will conduct an environmental site assessment for a real field site. For this project, students will: 1) conduct a desktop investigation of the site, 2) go to the project field site and characterising the site with hands-on field methods, and 3) implement the collected data into an industry-standard software package to model groundwater behaviour at the site. In the first half of the course, specific focus is placed on learning field measurement techniques and gaining hands-on experience with them at the project field site to characterise the groundwater system. The second half teaches students: a) an industry-standard commercial modelling software package, b) how to implement their collected field data into the model, c) the use of geostatistical techniques to extrapolate the collected field data across the entire site, and then d) model the field site. Students will then deliver a professional written environmental site assessment report including each phase of their investigation. During this process, students will learn how to critically evaluate field and numerical investigation techniques, and how to identify their limitations and sources of uncertainty.

The course lectures develop students┬┐ ability to synthesize knowledge and techniques learned from other courses into a single, comprehensive site investigation. Lectures are supported by hands-on practicals. The first part of the course, practicals have students visiting the field site and conducting their own field investigations. The second part of the course, practicals are focused on numerical modelling and report writing.

The course will consist of 3 hour lectures each week, as well as hands-on laboratory and field practicals.

Course outline:

Unit 1: Desktop Investigation

Introduction to the project

What is an environmental site assessment?

How to conduct desktop investigations

Unit 2: Permeability and Borehole Logs

What is a phase 2 investigation. What information is needed?

Techniques for estimating permeability (field, lab)

How to interpret pump test data

Well and borehole construction, installation

How to log boreholes and collect soil samples

Basin analysis

Soil descriptions

Fracture analysis

Well testing & Well logs and formation evaluation

Unit 3: Groundwater Characterisation

What analyses do we need to characterise our site? pH, salinity, DO, carbon, nitrogen. What can be done in field and what needs to go back to lab?

Introduction to analytical chemistry

How to collect and preserve groundwater samples

Unit 4: Introduction to GIS

Spatial data management and analysis

Unit 5: Introduction to Modflow

What hydrogeology models exist, how to choose?

What is modflow? How to use it.

Unit 6: Limitations of field knowledge and geostatistics

What are the limits of field knowledge? How do we fill in these gaps?


Unit 7: Professional Communication

How to write a professional site assessment

Class exercise critically evaluating site assessment reports
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
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework.
This course will have a single assessment due week 13: A written environmental site assessment report synthesizing all of the desktop, field and numerical data that was collected and interpreted throughout the course to present a complete characterisation of the project site. It will be instructor reviewed and marked. This assessment builds on the topics covered in each week of class and the data collected in each practical. This assessment will be given at the start of the semester. Feedback on student progress will be ongoing throughout the course during each practical, with 2 formal feedback sessions on student┬┐s project progress at the mid-point and near the end of the semester.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the process of environmental site assessments and investigations
  2. Understand the linkages between field and modelling projects
  3. Understand the limitations of both field- and modelling-data in studying hydrogeological systems
  4. Conduct all phases of a site assessment and investigation
  5. Implement industry standard field methods to collect and interpret field data
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will equip our graduates with a wide range of skills including:

Field and numerical investigation skills directly relevant to industrial employers

A good level of mathematical, analytical and modelling skills, using an industry standard software package.

Practical hands-on experiences with field- and lab- methods

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

Capability to integrate data from a wide range of sources such as field and numerical investigations to develop a holistic understanding of hydrogeological systems

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

Technical writing skills.

Ability to work well within a team.
KeywordsHydrogeology,numerical modelling,finite difference,contaminant transport
Course organiserDr Ian Molnar
Course secretaryMrs Lauren Blackman
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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