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Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions

Madeline Schreiber
Virginia Tech
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Jun 27, 2005


This activity has three exercises:
  1. measuring groundwater flow and velocity,
  2. measuring vertical gradients in piezometers, and
  3. sampling a well field.
These field exercises are meant to give students better comprehension of groundwater-stream interactions. It is better for use in smaller classes, as some instrumentation is needed.

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For upper level undergraduates and lower level graduate courses on hydrogeology or hydrology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have reviewed Darcy's Law, concepts of hydraulic gradients, and some basic aquifer test methodology.

How the activity is situated in the course

Exercise should be coupled with lecture discussion of groundwater-surface water interactions.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Groundwater-surface water interactions

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

-application of Darcy's Law
-analysis of spatial patterns
-correlation between gradients and discharge
-correlation between physical and chemical parameters

Other skills goals for this activity

-piezometer installation
-water level measurement
-calculation and mapping of gradients
-slug tests and slug test analysis

Description of the activity/assignment

In class, instructor provides background on groundwater-surface water interactions, defines the hyporheic zone, and describes why knowledge of the HZ is important for both hydrology and ecology.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Answers to questions at end of lab exercise

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Dahm and Valett (1996), Hyporheic Zones, in Methods of Stream Ecology, 1996 Hauer and Lamberti (eds), Academic Press, NY.

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