78593 - Groundwater and Contamination Processes

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities Climate Action

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The course provides fundamentals of subsurface flow and transport, emphasizing the primary role of groundwater in the hydrologic cycle, the relation of groundwater flow to hydrogeological properties, and the management of contaminated groundwater. Effective methods for the prediction and interpretation of groundwater processes will be discussed together with engineering implications. These include basics of infrastructure design related to the subsurface environment. Particular attention will be reserved to well hydraulics having several implications in water exploitation, monitoring and remediation. Description and analysis of both synthetic and real case studies will provide the opportunity to jointly apply concepts and methods discussed during the course.

Course contents

Requirements/Prior knowledge

A prior knowledge and understanding of calculus and hydraulics is required to attend with profit this course.

Fluent spoken and written English is a necessary pre-requisite: all lectures and tutorials, and all study material will be in English.

Course contents

1) Groundwater resources. Aquifer properties. Flow modeling under stationary and transient conditions.

2) Well hydraulics and design of wells and well fields. Interpretation of field tests.

3) Transport processes in porous media. Transport modeling: conservative and reactive solute transport. Interpretation of laboratory and field measurements. Monitoring of groundwater systems.

4) Aquifer contamination and elements of groundwater remediation strategies.

5) Special topics: unsaturated flow, fractured media, case studies.


Required reading

Class notes available at http://virtuale.unibo.it.

Recommended reading

J. Bear: Hydraulics of Groundwater. McGraw-Hill, 1979.

C.W. Fetter, Applied Hydrogeology, Fourth Edition. Prentice Hall, 2001.

G. de Marsily, Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers, Academic Press, Inc., 1986.

Sethi R., Di Molfetta A., Groundwater Engineering, A Technical Approach to Hydrogeology, Contaminant Transport and Groundwater Remediation, Springer-Verlag, 2019.

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars with experts (in class and online). The course contents are entirely covered by the lectures. Exercises are proposed during the course to provide the basis for the realization of a project that students will develop as an extended homework. Papers to review are also assigned to stimulate discussion on specific topics.

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by means of:

  • a final written test including 2 open questions to assess the knowledge of the topics covered during classes;
  • an extended homework consisting of in-class exercises and home assignments on groundwater flow and transport.

In-class exercises and home assignments involves handling of field data via spreadsheet, ad-hoc codes, or numerical codes (e.g. MODFLOW).

Based on the assessment of the "expected learning outcomes" described above, higher grades will be awarded to students who demonstrate a physical understanding of the subject, high quantitative skills, and a clear and concise presentation of the contents.

To obtain a passing grade, students are required to at least demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subject, some quantitative skills, and a comprehensible use of technical language.

A failing grade will be awarded if the student shows knowledge gaps in key-concepts of the subject, scarce physical understanding, and no quantitative skills.

Teaching tools

Lectures, practical exercises with PC, and scientific papers on specific topics. Class material, including slides covering theory, exercises and their draft solution is available for registered students from the repository: https://virtuale.unibo.it/ .

Office hours

See the website of Vittorio Di Federico

See the website of Valentina Ciriello