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The University of Southampton

CENV6154 Groundwater Hydrology and Contamination

Module Overview

This module will describe how to assess the groundwater water resources of the UK and other countries, how to determine the key aspects of local and regional hydrogeology, and how to create ground water models. Engineering applications will include assessing and dealing with groundwater contamination and dewatering for construction sites.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Define the key components of a functioning groundwater model
  • Determine the main aquifer properties – permeability, transmissivity and storage
  • Identify geological formations capable of storing and transporting groundwater
  • Understand how groundwater models can be applied in engineering analysis
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appraise aquifer - aquitard systems
  • Assemble the key data required to construct a functioning groundwater model
  • Analyse pumping test data
  • Construct groundwater models
  • Evaluate the risk to drinking water posed by contamination
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Ability to access relevant scientific and other materials from a variety of different sources;
  • Communicate ideas in a coherent and cogent fashion through written work and oral and visual presentations.
  • Learn independently
  • Apply critical analysis and judgement
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out a hydro-geological survey and a pumping test
  • Analyse data from pumping tests
  • Set up computer models
  • Synthesize findings obtained from simulation models into a consultant's report


The module will be in four sections. A provisional schedule of lecture topics is also given, but this may change due to the availability of guest lecturers from Industry. A) Hydrogeology and Aquifer properties. Aquifer types and characteristics will be described. Groundwater hydrology will be discussed in detail and related to the water resources of the local region (Southern England). The hydraulics of pumped wells will be explained together with analytical methods used in the analysis of well pumping tests. B) Groundwater modelling. The governing equations of groundwater flow will be described, together with analytical and numerical approaches to the solutions of the equations. Students will be introduced to model construction using Visual MODFLOW and a series of self study exercises in groundwater and contaminant movement will be undertaken. C) Groundwater contamination. Guidelines for assessment for contaminated land used in the UK based on current legislation will be explained. Monte Carlo methods of uncertainty analysis will be used to identify what risks are associated with using groundwater affected by contamination. D) Engineering application. Regional water resources, Foundation dewatering, contaminated groundwater. Week 1 Course introduction - overview. Introduction to Hydrogeology. Aquifer Characteristics. Week 2 Fundamentals of water storage and groundwater flow. Darcy, Dupuit, Laplace equations. Week 3 Flownet analysis and flownet construction. Week 4 Water wells. Radial flow. Pumping tests. Capture zones. Delayed yield. Boundaries. Week 5 Case study : Hampshire. Field visit. Water Resources - recharge estimation, saline intrusion near the coast. Week 6 Introduction to MODFLOW - steady state aquifer, transient contamination examples Week 7 MODFLOW examples and exercises. Week 8 Contaminated groundwater - overview and legislation. Fate and transportation mechanisms Week 9 Contamination - risk analysis. Exercises –Ogata & Banks equation, Monte Carlo approach. Week 10 Groundwater in construction. Dewatering practical considerations Week 11 Dewatering 2 - case studies, Exercises. Christmas break Week 12 Exercises. Revision class.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will consist of lectures, self-study exercises and coursework. Lectures will cover background theory and introduce groundwater resource assessment methods, model construction and validation and will also describe a series of case studies. There will be informal exercises, and if time permits, a field visit. A coursework task will be set to develop understanding of modelling a groundwater problem.

Wider reading or practice25
Follow-up work8
Practical classes and workshops6
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Books and handouts. You will be given handouts during the lectures. You do not have to buy a specific book, but you will learn much more if you obtain one of the books from the recommended book list, several of which are available in the Library. An e-book on will be made available on Blackboard.


Assessment Strategy

Repeat year - external repeat as per referral method.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 20%
Examination  (120 minutes) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: CENV2008

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