Spring 2021 - EASC 410 D100

Groundwater Contamination and Transport (3)

Class Number: 1868

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 28, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    EASC 315W or EASC 412. All with a grade of C- or better.



An introduction to contaminant hydrogeology and mass transport processes in groundwater regimes. Topics include natural groundwater quality, sources of contamination, for example from mine waste, agriculture, saltwater intrusion, and industrial activities, and the processes and principles governing mass transport, including advection, dispersion and diffusion. The course also explores methodologies for site investigation as well as various remediation methods. Quantitative.


Groundwater contamination can be a significant environmental problem leading to degradation of the quality of fresh water both in the subsurface and where groundwater discharges to surface water bodies. This course introduces the basic principles of contaminant hydrogeology by discussing the geochemical properties of inorganic and organic contaminants and the processes and principles governing mass transport, including advection, dispersion and diffusion. The course also explores methodologies for site investigation as well as various remediation methods that have been developed to clean up groundwater.

Course Topics:
1. Overview of Groundwater Contamination - types of contaminants, lab analysis, sources
2. Inorganic Chemicals in Groundwater - chemical processes in the unsaturated and saturated zones, mixing, zonation, inorganic contaminants
3. Organic Compounds in Groundwater - naming organics, properties of organics, chemical partitioning.
4. Mass Transport in Saturated Media (concepts and equations for mass transport, analytical solutions, field measurements, scale dependence, plumes.
5. Transformation, Retardation and Attenuation
6. Monitoring and Sampling - Site characterization
7. Flow and Mass Transport in the Vadose Zone
8. Multiphase Flow
9. Remediation Methods (overview)

Course Organization:
1 two-hour lecture and 1 three-hour laboratory. The assignments are based on the theory part of the course, and these will be distributed during lab time. Lectures and labs will be synchronous at the times shown in the course schedule. This means that students are expected to be online at the lecture and lab times. Lectures will be live recorded in Blackboard Collaborate and viewable after the lecture time. The midterm and final exams will be synchronous on dates that are to be determined.


Learning Outcomes:
Knowledge Development – students integrate their knowledge of types of contaminants (inorganic, organic, radionuclide), sources of contamination, and the physical and chemical processes that control the fate and transport (mobility) of contaminants (liquids – dissolved and free phase, gases) to predict the presence of contaminants in groundwater systems. How will they move? Will they degrade? How can they be cleaned up? Transport of non-aqueous phase liquids/gases in the groundwater context is analogous to transport of oil and gas in petroleum reservoirs.

Analytical Skill Development: students learn analytical methods (computational and lab experiments) for quantifying fate and transport of a variety of contaminants within a groundwater system.

Computing Skills: Students further develop skills in spreadsheets (calculation, graphing), numerical modeling using specialized software (introductory level).

Writing Skill Development: Students write a proposal in response to a call for proposals for a particular contaminated site.

Oral Presentation Skill Development: Students present their proposal orally.


  • Assignments 30%
  • Mid-Term Exam 15%
  • Term Project and Presentation 20%
  • Final Exam 35%



Computer with webcam and headset with microphone, reliable high-speed internet access, access to Canvas, Remote Desktop Connection app for accessing SFU EASC computer lab computers


Course E-Text:
C. W. Fetter, Thomas Boving, David Kreamer, 2018. Contaminant Hydrogeology, 3rd Edition, Waveland Press, 647 pp
ISBN: 9781478632795

Selected Readings

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).