Spring 2023 - EASC 410 D100

Groundwater Contamination and Transport (3)

Class Number: 1934

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Tue, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2023
    Mon, 6:30–6:30 p.m.

  • 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, including 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. Transport of non-aqueous phase liquids /gases in the groundwater context is analogous to transport of oil and gas in petroleum reservoirs.

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:
One 2-hour lecture and one 3-hour laboratory each week. The assignments are based on the theory part of the course, and these will be distributed during lab time.


Learning Outcomes:

Knowledge Development and Application – Demonstrate understanding 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).

Knowledge Application: Apply knowledge to predict how contaminants will move in the subsurface, whether they will degrade, and how can they be cleaned up.

Scientific Methods: Employ scientifically-based approaches to obtain, analyze and interpret data (geological, geochemical, and hydrogeological) and critically evaluate the scientific findings.

Analytical Skills: Use analytical methods (calculations, graphing), laboratory experimental methods, and computational methods (numerical modeling using specialized software at an introductory level) to quantify fate and transport of a variety of contaminants within a groundwater system.

Communication Skills: Write a proposal in response to a call for proposals for a particular contaminated site. Present the proposal orally.


  • Assignments 25%
  • Mid-Term Exam 15%
  • Mock Trial Participation 5%
  • Term Project and Preparation 20%
  • Final Exam 35%



Fetter, C.W., Boving, T. and Kreamer, D. 2018. Contaminant Hydrogeology, 3rd Edition, Waveland Press, 647 pp. ISBN 10: 1-4786-3279-8; ISBN 13: 978-1-4786-3279-5.
ISBN: 978-1-4786-3279-5.

Selected Readings


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Registrar Notes:


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