We perceive a trend in the study and practice of groundwater hydrology. We see a science that is emerging from its geological roots and its early hydraulic applications into a full-fledged environmental science. We see a science that is becoming more interdisciplinary in nature and of greater importance in the affairs of man.

This book is our response to these perceived trends. We have tried to provide a text that is suited to the study of groundwater during this period of emergence. We have made a conscious attempt to integrate geology and hydrology, physics and chemistry, and science and engineering to a greater degree than has been done in the past.

This book is designed for use as a text in introductory groundwater courses of the type normally taught in the junior or senior year of undergraduate geology, geological engineering, or civil engineering curricula. It has considerably more material than can be covered in a course of one-semester duration. Our intention is to provide a broad coverage of groundwater topics in a manner that will enable course instructors to use selected chapters or chapter segments as a framework for a semester-length treatment. The remaining material can serve as a basis for a follow-up undergraduate course with more specialization or as source material for an introductory course at the graduate level. We recognize that the interdisciplinary approach may create some difficulties for students grounded only in the earth sciences, but we are convinced that the benefits of the approach far outweigh the cost of the additional effort that is required.

The study of groundwater at the introductory level requires an understanding of many of the basic principles of geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. This text is designed for students who have a knowledge of these subjects at the level normally covered in freshman university courses. Additional background in these subjects is, of course, desirable. Elementary calculus is used frequently in several of the chapters. Although knowledge of topics of more advanced calculus is definitely an asset to students wishing to pursue specialized groundwater topics, we hope that for students without this background this text will serve as a pathway to the understanding of the basic physical principles of groundwater flow. Differential equations have been used very sparingly, but are included where we view their use as essential. The physical meaning of the equations and their boundary conditions is held paramount. To avoid mathematical disruptions in continuity of presentation of physical concepts, detailed derivations and solution methods are restricted to the appendices.

Until recently, groundwater courses at the university level were normally viewed in terms of only the geologic and hydraulic aspects of the topic. In response to the increasing importance of natural groundwater quality and groundwater contamination by man, we have included three major chapters primarily chemical in emphasis. We assume that the reader is conversant with the usual chemical symbols and can write and balance equations for inorganic chemical reactions. On this basis, we describe the main principles of physical chemistry that are necessary for an introductory coverage of the geochemical aspects of the groundwater environment. Students wishing for a more advanced treatment of these topics would require training in thermodynamics at a level beyond the scope of this text.

Although we have attempted to provide a broad interdisciplinary coverage of groundwater principles, we have not been able to include detailed information on the technical aspects of such topics as well design and installation, operation at well pumps, groundwater sampling methods, procedures for chemical analysis of groundwater, and permeameter and consolidation tests. The principles of these practical and important techniques are discussed in the text but the operational aspects must be gleaned from the many manuals and technical papers cited through out the text.


The manuscript for this text was reviewed in its entirety by Pat Domenico, Eugene Simpson, and Dave Stephenson. Their comments and suggestions aided us immeasurably in arriving at the final presentation. We are also indebted to Bill Back, Lee Clayton, Shlomo Neuman, Eric Reardon, and Leslie Smith, who provided valuable reviews of portions of the book. In addition, we requested and received help on individual sections from Bob Gillham, Gerry Grisak, Bill Mathews, Dave McCoy, Steve Moran, Nari Narasimhan, Frank Patton, John Pickens, Doug Piteau, Joe Poland, Dan Reynolds, and Warren Wood. In addition, we would be remiss not to recognize the vital influence of our long-time associations with Paul Witherspoon and Bob Farvolden.

We also owe a debt to the many graduate and undergraduate students in groundwater hydrology at U.B.C. and Waterloo who identified flaws in the presentation and who acted as guinea pigs on the problem sets.


Vancouver, British Columbia

Waterloo, Ontario