Groundwater Flow Model

Alex Manda
East Carolina University
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Initial Publication Date: July 11, 2011 | Reviewed: June 8, 2013


In this activity, students assess a groundwater flow system using a physical groundwater model. Students take measurements, make observations and do simple calculations to evaluate the groundwater flow system. The model illustrates the interconnections between ground- and surface-water components of the hydrologic cycle and how anthropogenic activities influence the system.

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This activity can be used in introductory level courses for majors and non majors, as well as advanced level courses that have a groundwater/hydrogeology component (e.g., physical geology, environmental geology, and introduction to hydrogeology).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

- The water cycle
- Hydraulic head
- Types of aquifers
- Hydraulic conductivity
- Permeability
- Darcy's Law
- Hydraulic gradient
- Porosity
- Contamination
- Mathematical computations

How the activity is situated in the course

The activity is a standalone exercise that is done after the basic concepts related to groundwater are covered.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The major goal for this activity is to assess a groundwater flow system using a groundwater flow model.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will
- measure hydraulic head
- develop and test hypotheses
- analyze groundwater flow paths
- apply groundwater concepts

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will
- calculate hydraulic head and groundwater velocity
- sketch groundwater flow paths
- work in groups

Description of the activity/assignment

Students will work in groups to make observations, identify aquifers, describe aquifer properties and measure hydraulic head in a physical groundwater flow model. The information collected will be used to answer questions pertaining to the groundwater flow system. The activity serves to consolidate the key concepts covered in lecture materials. These concepts include the water cycle, hydraulic head, types of aquifers, hydraulic conductivity, permeability, Darcy's Law, hydraulic gradient, porosity and groundwater contamination.

Determining whether students have met the goals

The activity will be graded. The answers that the students provide in the activity will determine whether the students meet the goals of the activity.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Link for site where groundwater flow model can be acquired.