Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > Winter Field Lab: Pond Hydrology

Winter Field Lab: Pond Hydrology

Sara Elizabeth Gran, Paul Robert Bierman, and Kyle Keedy Nichols

University of Vermont Department of Geology


This is a great field activity to implement during late winter or early spring when things have not quite thawed. Students get to go out into the field and collect their own data from a frozen pond. They collect bathymetric data, measure water temperature and conductivity, locate ground-water inputs, and extract a sediment core. Back in the lab,they make hand and computer-contoured bathymetric maps and temperature and conductivity cross-sections and run visual-core log, loss-on-ignition (LOI), magnetic susceptibility (MS) tests. Then they draw conclusions about water movement in the pond, pond-water residence time, and the pond's depositional and hydrologic history.

Learning Goals

Context for Use

This activity is designed for upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level geohydrology courses.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Emphasizing that the students are doing original research and that there are no pre-determined answers to posed questions enhances their interest in the project.

Teaching Materials

The following equipment is required:


Report due three weeks after field day. Evaluate reports based on the quality of the science, writing, and calculations. In addition to the teacher evaluation, letting class members evaluate and edit another student's report gives students a chance to practice critical evaluation of another's work, which is found to enhance the re-writing process.

References and Resources

Contact the Author

Please contact pbierman@zoo.uvm.edu with questions or suggestions.

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Hydrology:Ground Water: Field methods in hydrogeology, Water and society, policy, and management, Geoscience:Hydrology
Special Interest: Quantitative
Quantitative Skills: Differential Equations and Integrals, Graphs, Algebra, Probability and Statistics, Arithmetic/Computation
Quantitative Skills Activity Type: Field Activity, Lab Activity
Topics: Hydrosphere/Cryosphere, Groundwater: Field methods in hydrogeology, Water and society, policy, and management
Theme: Teach the Earth:Teaching Topics:Water, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Hydrology/Hydrogeology

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