Water Quality Assessment: Computer Analysis

Ming-Kuo Lee


Use computer software to generate diagrams that facilitate the examination of ion concentrations in ground-water and the chemical evolution of organic compounds in an oil spill.

In part one, students use Piper and Stiff diagrams to identify water chemistry changes along a flow path and speculate on the possible causes of increased total dissolved solids and ion concentrations.

In part two, students use a ternary diagram to study the transport and natural attenuation of benzene-toluene-xylene (BTX) in an oil spill, seeing how BTX is used for oil spill site characterizations.

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Learning Goals

  • Experience the ground-water investigation process from computational data analysis to final interpretation.
  • Become better prepared for environmental employment.

Context for Use

This is the second of nine one-week exercises designed for a senior-level undergraduate lecture/lab hydrogeology course.

Description and Teaching Materials

The following tools and data are required:
  • Computer software that can generate Piper, Stiff, and ternary diagrams.
  • A potentiometric-surface map of an aquifer.
  • Water chemistry data from five wells with increasing distance from the recharge area.
  • Three BTX data sets.


The author is seeking feedback from companies that hire students that have gone through the course that this activity is from to see if this training provides a positive impact on job performance.

References and Resources

The activity is from the following article:
See the other eight related activities derived from this article: