Who Polluted Surface and Groundwater in This Place?
Arizona State UniversityAuthor Profile
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Students use water-well data and geology to determine which site caused groundwater and surface-water contamination.
Introductory Physical Geology Course
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How to contour data; relationship of the direction of groundwater flow to water-table contours; general understanding of permeability
How the activity is situated in the course
Done as in-class exercise or homework late in the semester, culminating the water-resources section of the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
How we investigate groundwater contamination; flow directions of groundwater; relationship between groundwater and surface water; how contamination travels
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Experience with uncertainty and limited data in natural situations
Other skills goals for this activity
Plotting and contouring numeric (water-table elevation) data
Description of the activity/assignment
Students are provided with a 3D perspective of a virtual place, descriptions of geologic and cultural aspects, and a table with water-table elevations in groundwater and contaminant levels in water wells, springs, and rivers. Students use these data to contour water-table elevations, determine the direction of groundwater flow, and identify industrial sites that are likely sources of contamination. They then propose a remediation plan and identify water wells that are likely to remain uncontaminated in the future.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students must indicate the direction of groundwater flow and identify the likely sites of contamination.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment (Acrobat (PDF) 485kB Jul16 08)
- Solution Set (Acrobat (PDF) 500kB Jul16 08)
- Worksheet Word File (Microsoft Word 842kB Jul16 08)
- Worksheet PDF file (Acrobat (PDF) 345kB Jul16 08)
from Reynolds, S.J., Johnson, J.K., Kelly, M.M., Morin, P.M., and Carter C.M., 2008, Exploring Geology: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Dubuque, Iowa, p. 522-523.