INTEGRATING HYDROGEOLOGY INTO AN UNDERGRADUATE GEOLOGY FIELD CAMP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI BRANSON GEOLOGY FIELD CAMP
Each student spends one day competing a hydrogeology exercise. The one day course must challenge all students yet provide sufficient context so that those students with no experience in hydrogeology benefit from the course. The routine for the hydrogeology course is a one-hour lecture followed by a three hour field exercise. The remainder of day is spent compiling data, completing calculations and preparing an interpretive report.
Field work is completed in Red Canyon. We have well field along a 120 m reach of Red Canyon Creek. The creek forms the boundaries along the north, west and south ends of the site. A shallow groundwater system at the site is controlled by the exchange of groundwater and surface water via the creek.
In a one-hour lecture, hydrogeology is distilled to its most basic concepts: direction and rate of groundwater flow and water chemistry. Students are taught basic concepts of energy in groundwater; flow along energy gradients; vertical and horizontal flow; response of aquifers to pumping and simple concepts of water chemistry. Students learn to take the necessary measurements at the field site to quantify the direction and rate of groundwater flow across the field. Finally, using water chemistry, they verify their interpretation of flow by observing trends in DO, specific conductivity and pH in the creek and well field. Students assume as water flows from the creek through the ground the pH and DO decrease and specific conductivity increases.
After the exercise, even those students with limited experience in hydrogeology have a solid understanding of basic concepts of hydrogeology. Furthermore, they can apply their understanding of local geology to better understand the hydrogeologic setting in the field.