Construction of Water Table Maps Using GIS

Bob Newton, Smith College


Students create a water table map and flow net using water level data from seepage lakes in the Sand Hills of Nebraska.
They then are able to make hypotheses regarding the chemistry of the lakes.


Type and level of course
This is an upper level course in groundwater geology taken by geology and engineering students.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
Some knowledge of geomorphology.

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcMap with Spatial Analyst and 3D analyst extensions

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
1 lab period


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Students learn how to create rasters and how to determine steepest paths from a point.

Other content/concepts goals for this activity
The goal of the exercise is for students to see how surface water and groundwater are related to each other in this region.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Students, hopefully, are able to relate the groundwater flow system to the chemistry of the lakes. This involves being able to understand the implications of the flow net that they produce.

Description of the activity/assignment

Students are given a topographic map of the region to interpret. They are provided with outside readings to help them understand the geomorphology of the region and are given a shapefile of lake elevation points that have been extracted from the topographic map. They then create a water table map and flow net that they use to interpret the groundwater flow system and make predictions concerning the chemistry of some of the seepage lakes.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students turn in a written lab report with their maps.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

URLs and References

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Other Materials

    Topographic Map

Construction of Water Table Maps Using GIS -- Discussion  

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