Basic Hydrogeology

A New Hydrogeology Textbook: Coming Soon!

An Open Letter to the Hydrogeology Teaching Community,

Between 2001 and the present I have taught college-level courses on hydrogeology and groundwater resources on a fairly regular basis. The way I teach my courses doesn't quite match the format of any of the available textbooks, so I ended up compiling a relatively comprehensive set of lecture notes that I distribute to my students in lieu of a formal textbook. I also developed a hydrogeology course lab curriculum (and associated manual) that I used for the lab component of my classes.

In 2005 I took part in the Teaching Hydrogeology in the 21st Century conference hosted by the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carlton College. At the conference, I decided to post a pdf copy of my lecture notes, along with a copy of my lab manual and associated materials, and make the notes available to the hydrogeology community for free. I had previously considered converting the notes into a real textbook and publishing it, but at the time I believed that there really wasn't a need for yet another hydrogeology textbook, so I posted it at the site and gave permission for individuals to download a copy for personal use and to distribute copies of the notes to their students for use in a college-level hydrogeology course. I elected to keep the copyrights on all original materials in the notes, however, in case I decided later to formally publish any of them.

Since then I have been in contact with several individuals who have discovered the lecture notes, have used them extensively in their own courses, and have found them to be better suited for their use than the existing textbooks on the market. Here are some direct quotes:


"I'm teaching the Introduction to Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology course at ***** this semester and found your online book through the Carlton College/ Cutting Edge for Geosciences website . . . And, I've got to Thank YOU!

"The document you created is more helpful than any other text. And, I've got all kinds of hydrogeology books right now (Todd, Domenico, Fetter, Davis & DeWeist . . the list actually does go on). Interestingly - I'm using your pdf as the core and adding to it from what I glean from the other texts. So, KUDOS - I think that you created something terrific and I appreciate it very much."


"I'm teaching a groundwater course for the first time this semester and have been using your course notes that you published to the web extensively in developing my own. Thank you very much for providing the community with such a wonderful resource!"

"I have to say that I think your notes are better than all the books out there! I'm contemplating just switching to them the next time I teach the class. If you do end up creating a textbook from them, I'd buy it for sure. The reason I like your notes so much is that you take the time to derive most stuff, which makes it a lot easier to understand where stuff comes from. "


"I "discovered" your lecture notes on the Carleton SERC site under the hydrogeology heading. I found it late-I think you must have been part of one of the Hydrogeology working groups-and I've used the notes for 2 years now. I used to use Fetter (like everyone) then Schwartz and Zhang, then Hitchcock (British flavor)-but was never particularly happy... I find your notes clear, concise and all the students need with respect to the undergraduate course I teach... Thanks you so much for this-for the past 2 years I've talked about you in my class, specifically about how good I think the notes are and how much work went into them to just be shared on a website."


"Thank you for posting your hydrogeology textbook notes / textbook ( online. I've found it a very good resource to create a lecture template for my environmental hydrogeology course which is taught to 3rd year students our applied environmental management degree at Lakeland College. Students in the program do not have a strong background in mathematics, as say in a science and engineering programs,so textbooks like Fetter or Schwatz and Zhang are very difficult to use. Your text fits the bill perfectly for my students and fills a much required niche."


"I just wanted to let you know that I came across your free online PDF of the hydrogeology course, and I think it's excellent. I'm teaching a hydrogeology class next spring for the first time and I was really struggling to find a book I liked. Similar to the other comments on your page, I think the normal hydrology/hydrogeology books are not written in a way that's helpful for folks other than senior-level geologists. I may be using yours."


Based on the feedback that I received, and on my discussions with other hydrogeology teaching faculty, I've come to believe that a lot of you in the hydrogeology community share my dissatisfaction with the currently available textbooks. I now think that the community is ready for a new textbook; one that presents the material required for an introductory course in hydrogeology in a logical, conceptual way that people with a limited Earth Science background can understand, but still provides enough mathematical rigor to make it appropriate for an undergraduate engineering course or an upper division undergrad/grad level hydrogeology course in a classical geology department. I have therefore decided to expand my lecture notes into an actual textbook for formal publication. I have several potential contributing authors, and we are considering both traditional publication routes and the possibility of doing some sort of self-published electronic version, potentially as digital content licensed to universities, or maybe as a standard e-book. To set the final product apart from the existing textbooks in print, we plan to develop a book that

1) contains enough basic geology so that it can be used for classes that are not necessarily in traditional Earth Science programs (e.g., engineering, aquatic biology, geography, environmental science),
2) presents the material in descriptive and conceptual ways suitable for the less-quantitative disciplines, and
3) also includes enough derivations and quantitative information so that it will work for engineering and traditional hydrogeology students.

I have recently reviewed my current lecture notes and have prepared a formal version of them with a table of contents, systematic figure and table numbering, and a list of references. While the actual textbook is still in development, I have decided to publish the latest version of the lecture notes here and make them available for use by the hydrogeology teaching community.

Click here to download a copy of Hydrogeology Lecture Notes v. 2.3 (~6.5 mb)

This version contains some non-original figures and artwork, and the original figures are in a lower-resolution format than what will be in the final version. The content and organization, however, will be similar in the final published version - the main differences will be

1) the final textbook will contain a chapter at the beginning with an overview of basic Earth Science for non-geologists;
2) various derivations (e.g., the groundwater flow equation, the conversion from 2D Cartesian to polar coordinates, the finite-difference approximation) will be contained in either separate sections or in appendices, giving individual teachers more flexibility in determining what material will be covered;
3) there will be an expanded section on geochemisty, including thermodynamic equilibrium reactions, redox reaction, the use of geochemistry in traditional groundwater investigations, and more quantitative detail on mass transport modeling;
4) there will be a set of questions and exercises at the end of each chapter; and
5) I will package the textbook with an updated version of my laboratory manual.

Feel free to download a copy, see what you think about it and about what you've read here, and use it in your own courses if you're so inclined.

We are very interested in hearing any feedback that you have concerning the current version - especially ways that you think it can be improved in an official published version. If you can take some time to review the document and offer some constructive criticism, we would appreciate it, and we will make sure that you are mentioned in the acknowledgments of the final version.

Thank you for reading. Please contact me at info at martingeologic dot com with any comments, suggestions, critiques, random insults, etc.

-M. U.
18 May 2012 (last edited March 2015)

Kelly Kaye

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