Investigating groundwater-surface water interactions using a multidisciplinary approach involving hydrogeology, geology, and geophysics

submitted by

Bob Bauer, University of Missouri
Author Profile

Students and faculty participate in an integrated effort to characterize hydrologic relationships using hydrologic, geologic & geophysical data
GSA Poster (PowerPoint 7.1MB Nov3 03)

Learning Goals


Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Drawing conclusions from and integrating multiple datasets

Other Skills:

Learning several new techniques of data acquisition and analysis


Instructional Level:

Students who participate in the course are typically juniors or seniors working toward a BS degree in the geological sciences

Skills Needed:

Pre-requisites for the course include: Historical Geology, Sedimentology, and Structural Geology.

Role of Activity in a Course:

Project background provided onsite:By the time the students start the project, they have already completed projects on the stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Mesozoic rock units that occur at the site, and they have mapped folded and faulted rock Mesozoic rock units in adjacent areas.
Project lectures provided onsite: Since the course has no course pre-requisites in hydrogeology or geophysics, all techniques and background in these areas are provided through onsite lectures and demonstrations.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:

The project requires numerous special tools and specialized training including: Geoprobe direct-push tools, water-level meters, pH meters, chemical analysis kits, pumps, seismic refraction equipment

Logistical Challenges:

Because the project is very multidisciplinary, it requires collaboration among several instructors with specialized backgrounds


Evaluation Goals:

Evaluation Techniques:


During the past four years at the Branson Field Laboratory, we have developed projects that integrate a broad range of hydrologic, hydrogeologic, and geochemical skills with field mapping and shallow subsurface analysis. Our educational philosophy is to introduce our students to a broad range of skills and methods within the context of continually changing discovery. Each year's work is conditioned on the results of the previous year's results; students are involved in new inquiry-based research every year.
The study area, a riparian wetland research area managed by The Nature Conservancy of Wyoming, is located in scenic Red Canyon, near Lander, Wyoming. The canyon is drained by the now underfit Red Canyon Creek. Five alluvial units adjacent to the creek include four Pleistocene cut terraces through Triassic redbeds and one Holocene fill terrace. The creek has a series of beaver dams within tight meanders. The study project involves four segments of data collection and analysis: 1) mapping of the alluvial terraces, 2) installing and monitoring shallow test wells using a Geoprobe???, 3) conducting in-stream tracer tests, and 4) obtaining shallow seismic refraction profiles.
Students and faculty participate in an integrated effort to characterize hydrologic relationships within a well defined stretch of Red Canyon Creek. In two of the meanders, borings into fine-grained floodplain deposits are collected and analyzed, and piezometers or water table wells are installed. Stratigraphic data, water levels in piezometers and wells, and all-day in-stream tracer testing have identified a wetland hyporheic zone with short-term flow paths to and from the water table and the stream. Seismic refraction profiles suggest that there are buried stream channels and point bars beneath the surficial silt that may produce locally complex short-term flow paths. Next year we will use high resolution seismic reflection profiles and selected new monitoring wells to test this hypothesis.