Seismic refraction exercise for a hydrogeology course

Devin Castendyk
State University of New York, College at Oneonta
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This problem has students analyze seismic refraction data to determine the depth to the water table and stratigraphy. Simple, useful, and gratifying.

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This problem is designed for an Introduction to Hydrogeology course targeting sophomores and junions.
Integrates geophysics into a core course in geology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be comfortable drawing graphs and making simple algebra calculations. Students should review the associated power point presentation for this exercise to be familiar with seismic refraction theory.

How the activity is situated in the course

This exercise is situated toward the end of the semester when students are introduced to field methods in hydrogeology.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Determining the depth to the water table and local stratigraphy using seismic refraction.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students analyze raw data to make interpretations of stratigraphy and hydrology.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students draw graphs and make simple algebra calculations.

Description of the activity/assignment

After reviewing a power point presentation on the use of seismic refraction methods in hydrogeology, students are given seismic refraction data collected on the campus of the State University of New York, College at Oneonta, and asked to determine the depth to the water table in addition to drawing a stratigraphic column. The project can be conducted during class or as a take home assignment.
Has minimal/no quantitative component
Uses geophysics to solve problems in other fields

Determining whether students have met the goals

The instructor can compare the stratigraphic columns prepared by the students to the column provided in the solution set provided with this exercise.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Burger, H.R., Sheehan, A.F., and Jones, C.H., 2006. Introduction to Applied Geophysics, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, Chapters 2 and 3, pp. 7-148.

Fetter, C.W., 2001. Applied Hydrogeology, 4th Ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, pp. 483-490.