Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois University

Fall, 2005

Course Syllabus

Please note: The online version of this syllabus will be updated several times per week as we move through the semester.  Please check back frequently for updates.

Course Description:  Introduction to contaminant hydrogeology, including properties of organic and inorganic contaminants, chemical and physical processes affecting concentration of solutes in the subsurface, mass transport, multiphase flow, contaminant monitoring, and site remediation.  Lecture 3 hours.  Prerequisites: Graduate standing in Earth Science, and a 300- or 400- level course in hydrogeology.    (From the NEIU catalog.)

Instructor Contact Information

Outline of Topics
Course Requirements

 Evaluation and Grading

What should you bring
to this course?

Course Outcomes and Objectives (What will you take from this course?)

Working in Teams
Hints for Solving 
Quantitative Problems

Contact Information:

Instructor: Dr. Laura L. Sanders              Office: S-146
Phone:      773/442-6051                        Fax: 773/442-5710                      E-Mail:
Office Hours:   M 8:10-8:40 pm, T 4:00-6:00 pm, W 4:00-5:00 pm, R 8:30-9:00 pm, and by appointment.

Course Prerequisites: Graduate Standing in Earth Science, and a 300- or 400-level course in hydrogeology. 
Required Text:  C.W. Fetter, Contaminant Hydrogeology, 2nd edition.  Prentice Hall (1999). 
Supplemental Reading Materials:  Additional readings will be assigned from G. Nelson Eby, Principles of Environmental Geochemistry.  Thomson/Brooks-Cole (2004).  Other readings will be assigned and made available either on the web page or in the library.
Course Website:
Earth Science Department Website:

Outline of Topics

v Reading assignments listed here are for the Fetter textbook.
v Click on the date to see a list of objectives for that class period.  These will be updated just before the start of each class.

Week of Topics and Readings
AUG 28 Introduction, course outline, outcomes, assessment, and evaluation.  Overview of contaminant sources.  General contaminant classes; inorganic and organic chemicals.  Basic terms related to ground water contamination.  Read: Chapter 1. 
SEP 4 Chemical and physical properties of contaminants.  Compile and analyze contaminant data.  Review concepts related to ground water flow processes.  Hydraulic conductivity, permeability, hydraulic head, Darcy’s law, porosity, effective porosity, specific discharge, flow velocity.  Read: p. 34-43.
SEP 13 Continue review of ground water flow processes.  Mathematics of ground water flow equations.    Aquifer parameters: transmissivity, storativity, specific storage. 
SEP 23
Mass transport.  Read:  Chapter 2.
SEP 29 Mass transport, continued.  
Advection, mechanical dispersion, hydrodynamic dispersion, diffusion, dispersivity.  Read: Chapter 2.
OCT 13
Advection, mechanical dispersion, hydrodynamic dispersion, diffusion, dispersivity, cont'd.  Read: Chapter 2.
OCT 20
Advection, mechanical dispersion, hydrodynamic dispersion, diffusion, dispersivity, cont'd.  Read: Chapter 2.  Do the following problems for discussion in class tonight:  2.1, 2.5, and 2.7.
OCT 27 No class; work on homework assignment.
NOV 3 Adsorption and retardation of contaminants.  The advection-dispersion-decay equation.  Read: Chapter 3.   Homework on the project site is due.  Delineating hydrostratigraphy at a contaminated site.  Read: materials provided. 
NOV 10 Linear, Langmuir, and Freundlich sorption isotherms.  Partition coefficients; Kow, Koc Retardation factor.  Read: Chapter 3, esp. up to p. 145.  
NOV 17 Multiple solute effects.  Read: 145-147.  Multiphase flow; non-aqueous phase liquids, LNAPLs, DNAPLs.  Read: Chapter 5. 
NOV 24 Thanksgiving holiday.  No class.  
Sampling ground water for chemical analysis.  Inorganic and organic chemicals as contaminants.  Skim: Chapters 6 and 7.  Contaminant monitoring: well design, field equipment, field measurements.  Read: Chapter 8.  Contaminant mapping: determining plume size, direction of movement, and velocity.  Effects of pumping, fluctuations in water level, seasonal variation, contaminant mixing.  Is it possible to fingerprint contaminants?  Chemical and isotopic signatures.
DEC 4 Remediation options: source reduction and removal, hydrodynamic barriers, pump and treat, bioremediation, natural attenuation, air sparging, soil vapor extraction.  Read: Chapter 9.
DEC 11 Wellhead protection area delineation.

Course Requirements

Attendance at all class sessions is expected.   One point each week will be awarded for attendance and participation in class exercises.  These may include lecture, quizzes, lab, group work, computer explorations or other activities.

Course Materials:  Please bring the following to every class:
    § Your textbook and notebook.
    § Scientific calculator with logarithms, exponents, scientific notation, and a memory.
    § Pencil, eraser, 6" ruler, and a colored pencil (any color).

E-Mail: Students must maintain a valid e-mail account (either through NEIU or an e-mail service) and must pick up messages at least every 2-3 days.
Homework:  Homework will be assigned frequently and regularly.  Assignments and due dates will be posted on the homework web page.  Many assignments will require that you prepare materials to present in class.  For example, you may be asked to find a journal article related to a particular topic and teach your colleagues about it in class.   If you are not prepared on the due date, these assignments cannot be made up.  Grades for this type of assignment will be based partly on evaluation by the instructor and partly on evaluation by your peers.

Some homework assignments will be completed and handed in by individuals, and some will be handed in by teams.  Each paper handed in should list only the names of the students who participated in producing the final product.  Team members should first outline the solutions to problems on their own, and then should work together to complete the solutions.  Only one grade will be assigned per team.  When solving quantitative problems, be sure to use the hints linked to this syllabus.
  If your homework is not ready on the due date, this must be discussed with me on or before that date.  No homework will be accepted more than one week late.

Quizzes:   Quizzes will be announced in advance and factored into the grade as homework assignments.

Expert Witness Report:  A few weeks into the semester, you will be provided with geologic and analytical data on a “real-world” field site with contaminated ground water.  More data will be provided throughout the semester, and homework assignments will be based on the data.  You will work with the data to practice various methods learned during the class.  Several homework assignments will involve this site.  Near the end of the semester, you will be asked to examine all the data and render a decision identifying the source of contamination.  You will construct an expert opinion report explaining and supporting your conclusions.  More information on the format and content of the assignments and final report will be presented as the semester proceeds.
The expert witness report will be evaluated on the basis of the following considerations:
  * Content  (Is the hydrogeologic analysis logical, consistent, well-reasoned, and complete?  Are arguments and conclusions well-supported?  Is the degree of uncertainty in the analyses quantified and evaluated reasonably?)
  * Organization  (Are all the required sections present?  Is information presented in a logical order, with appropriate headings and subheadings?)
  * Format and presentation  (grammar, composition, typing, clarity and completeness of figures/tables/graphs).  More information on format will be given later in the semester.
Assessments: Students must participate in all assessment activities ("green sheets").  I want to learn how well certain concepts are getting across and how the class is feeling about the material and the course as we go along.  At the end of each class period, you will anonymously assess this.  On each green sheet, assessment questions will help me find out how well the day’s outcomes were achieved.  This may be done in the form of an ungraded quiz-type question, a “muddiest point” question, or survey-type questions.  This information will help me to determine the extent to which the course is meeting its goals.  To provide me with the most information so that I can make the course better, I ask that you give me your most thoughtful, honest feedback-- the more, the better.  A list of course outcomes is linked to the web version of this syllabus.  In addition to these outcomes, each class day you will receive a list of expected daily outcomes.  You also can find these daily outcomes from the outline of topics on the web version of this syllabus; just click on each date.

Academic integrity:  The NEIU policy on academic integrity will be strictly enforced.  A site from the University of Indiana explains and gives examples of plagiarism and provides helpful tips on how to avoid it.

Flexibility: This outline will change as the semester evolves.  Please allow for flexibility in topics and assignments.  Check this page frequently for updates!

Evaluation and Grading

   Homework (including class presentations) and quizzes: 68%
   Expert Witness Report:16%
   Attendance and participation: 16%

   No extra credit will be given.  A score of zero points will be assigned for any missing work.
   Grading scale: 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, <60% =F 

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

© 2005 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated November 3, 2005.