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

Postgraduate Course: Computational Simulation of Hydrogeological Systems (PGGE11283)

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 deals with developing and programming numerical models to simulate hydrogeological systems. The principles of numerical model development will be explored along with the fundamental processes governing heat and mass transport in the subsurface environment with a specific focus on applications for geothermal systems and reactive transport of hazardous industrial contaminants. Students will develop and program their own numerical model to better understand these concepts, their application and the underlying mathematics.
Course description Numerical models are now vital tools in hydrogeology as many applications require the incorporation of complex geology and numerous interconnected environmental processes. For instance, geothermal energy installations, remediation schemes for sites contaminated with hazardous wastes, as well as groundwater abstractions for drinking, agriculture and industrial usages all require the use of numerical models for successful implementation and to minimize negative environmental impacts. While commercial hydrogeological software packages are now available, an understanding of both their development and the governing processes they describe are required to properly utilize and, if necessary, modify. This course will cover all the steps of model development from conceptualization, through to implementation with programming languages, and finally model validation and calibration. Model development will be taught in the context of heat and mass transport processes in hydrogeological systems, specifically with geothermal systems and reactive transport at sites contaminated with hazardous chemicals. The course will cover fundamental heat and mass transport processes such as conduction and convection, advection and dispersion, reaction kinetics, sorption isotherms, as well as the mathematics required to program these processes using finite difference numerical techniques. During this process, students will learn how to critically assess numerical modelling reports to identify their underlying assumptions, limitations, and sources of inaccuracies.

The course lectures develop the students knowledge base with advancing concepts that are supported by practical programming, numerical modelling, and report writing and critical evaluation. This is aimed at developing technical, interpretation and reporting skills and encourage critical thinking. The concepts developed in the taught programme are reinforced with a project wherein students are given a specific hydrogeological scenario that they must develop, program, and implement their own numerical model to simulate and write a professional modelling report on.

Proposed course outline:

Unit 1: Introduction to Numerical Modelling

Overview of the modelling process

Different types of models

Usefulness and limitations of numerical models.

Introduction to programming concepts and good coding practices to be used throughout the course

Unit 2: 'Lumped box' models

How to use a mass balance approach to construct a governing differential equation

How to solve a first-order ordinary differential equation (ODE) with a finite difference approach

Euler vs. Runge-Kutta approaches to finite difference

Estimating error and instabilities in numerical methods

Unit 3: Modelling Advection/Convection and Dispersion/Conduction

What are advection and dispersion/diffusion

What are convection and conduction

Deriving the governing equations

1D finite difference solution techniques

Boundary conditions

Implicit vs explicit methods

Unit 4: Modelling Advection+Dispersion

Choosing the appropriate form of governing equation with dimensionless numbers

2D finite difference solution techniques

Corner boundary conditions

Transient vs steady-state solutions

Unit 5: Contaminant Transport

Types and sources of contaminants

Sorption isotherms and retardation coefficients

Colloids and filtration

Reaction kinetics

Incorporation into ADE

Unit 6: Groundwater flow

Deriving the groundwater flow equation

2D finite difference techniques

Unit 7: Model calibration and verification/validation

Statistical measures for goodness to fit

What is a good fit?

How do you verify and validate?
What is a sensitivity study?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Applied Hydrogeology and Near Surface Geophysics (EASC10101) OR Hydrogeology 1: Applied Hydrogeology (EASC10082)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements If a students wishes to take this course, but does not have the recommended pre-requisite, they MUST speak to the Course Organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
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.

Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %

This course will have a single assessment submitted in 2 parts : Students will develop their own finite difference numerical model of a hydrogeological scenario chosen for them and write a professional report on its conception, development, validation and calibration, and discussion of results. It will be instructor reviewed and marked. This assessment builds on the topics covered in each week of class and learning outcomes 1-4 with the model development and report being outcome 5. This assessment will be given at the start of the semester and each tutorial/practical will be focused on assisting the students in developing the portion of the model that was covered in that week's lectures.

Part 1 (formative) due week 7
Part 2 (summative) due in December
Feedback During the course, feedback on the course project will be ongoing as a component of the project is associated with each tutorial and practical session. This provides students with ongoing opportunities to consolidate their learning and provide continuous in-class feedback and the provision of in-class support to provide clarification if required.

In addition, mid-semester students will submit what they have completed to-date on the project for formal feedback.

Informal class discussions will be included within the course, teaching allowing both the exchange of ideas, and feedback on knowledge levels and on the presentation ideas.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the modelling process and how it applies to hydrogeological systems
  2. Recognise the processes governing heat and mass transport in groundwater and their implementations in finite difference codes
  3. Assess which governing equations and numerical techniques are needed in a model
  4. Critically evaluate models and their outputs
  5. Develop their own numerical model from conception to calibration and validation and communicate its outputs in a professional modelling report
Reading List
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
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, using both industry standard and academic software packages.

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
KeywordsHydrogeology,numerical modelling,finite difference,contaminant transport
Course organiserDr Ian Molnar
Course secretaryMrs Lauren Blackman
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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