Geology 210

Field characterization of aquifer systems


California State University, Sacramento


















This course is designed to provide graduate students with advanced skills in field characterization of aquifer systems.  Lectures will be used to develop theories and discuss applications, and labs will be devoted to hands-on exercises and data acquisition.   Students will use a variety of pumps, meters and data logging equipment at the CSUS wellfield.  This information will be used to interpret aquifer and sediment properties and flow characteristics.  The objective of the class is to use field techniques to characterize subsurface and near surface hydrologic conditions.



Course format:

This course will be taught in a compressed 6 week time period, and is a 3 unit lecture/lab course.  Students will need to commit a significant amount of time to meet the required 30 hours of lecture and 45 hours of lab time.  We will meet for 3 hours of lecture and problem solving on Tuesday evening.  Tuesday classes will be held in Napa Hall.  On Saturdays, we will meet at the CSUS wellfield for an additional 2 hours of lecture and 7 hours of lab.  Saturday lecture and lab will normally be from 8:00 5:30.  Our last weekend exercise will be a 24 hour test where students will sign up for 12 hour shifts, and will end early Sunday morning (Sept. 2).


Please do not sign up for this class if you cannot attend all classes and all Saturday field events.  Also note that the last lab exercise is a two day event on Labor Day weekend.  Students will need to sign up for 12 hour blocks of time during Labor Day weekend.  Students who miss lab or class may be dropped from the class.


Students will need to complete readings and weekly assignments in addition to the scheduled lectures and labs.  You should plan on 5-10 hours of work outside of class (weekly) to complete these assignments.


 Please do not sign up for this class if you do not have additional time to devote to readings and assignments.


Recommended reading:

Fetter, Applied Hydrogeology, 4th ed. 

Other assignments from the primary geologic literature- as assigned.


Click on the links for weekly readings, assignments and data sets:



Week 1

Tuesday July 24 lecture, Saturday July 28 lecture and field exercise

  • Site safety, site safety plans

  • Well construction, engineered wells

  • Water level measurement, hydraulic gradient, 3-point graphical solution to groundwater flow problem

  • pH, EC, Turbidity, and dissolved oxygen meters and measurements, flow-through cells

Saturday field exercises-  Water level and groundwater gradient, measuring field parameters.

Week 2

Tuesday July 31 lecture, Saturday Aug. 4 lecture and field exercise

  • Filtration, sample bottles, sample handling, decontamination, chain of custody

  • Working clean

  • Pumps and bailers, purging, well construction, well and pipe volumes, low flow sampling

 Saturday field exercise- Pumps, bailers, field parameters and parameter stabilization

Week 3

Tuesday Aug. 7 lecture, Saturday Aug. 11 lecture and field exercise

  • Conducting a slug test: slug-in and slug-out

  • Slug test theory

  • Introduction to slug test solutions- Hvorslev and Bouwer and Rice

Saturday field exercise- Conduct slug tests at the CSUS wellfield

Week 4

Tuesday Aug. 14 lecture, Sat. Aug. 18 lecture and field exercise

  • Pressure transducers, data loggers

  • Calibrating a pressure transducer

  • 3 hour drawdown test- setting up a test

  • Jacob distance drawdown solution for T, K, S

Saturday field exercise- Install pressure transducers in monitoring wells, conduct a 3 hour drawdown test, review of Jacob method.

Week 5

Tuesday Aug. 21 lecture, Sat. Aug. 25 lecture and field exercise

  • Step tests, well efficiency

  • Under-damped slug test solution for the deeper water bearing interval- using a pneumatic slug test

Saturday field exercise: step test, well efficiency

Week 6

Tuesday Aug. 28 lecture, Sat, Sun, Monday field exercise Sept. 1-2

  • Graphical solutions for leaky confined aquifers

  • High K slug test solution (under-damped) by Butler and Garnett (2000)

Saturday through Sunday field exercise:  24 hour drawdown and 24 hour recovery test.  Students will sign up for blocks of time during the weekend to cover the drawdown and recovery periods.

Final lab

24 hour aquifer test- assignment and results


Results from aquifer test

Final report: Due Monday Sept. 10




Other resources for Geology 210: