GLY 3882: Hydrology and Human Affairs

Madison Blue spring

Next offered Fall 2018 as a fully online course

This is now an International Scholars Program course (click here to find out more about ISP).  This course satisfies the Physical Science (P) GenEd requirement.

Please email ( if you have questions or have difficulties registering.

A draft syllabus is linked here.

Water is a resource that is vital for life. The quality and quantity of our water resources are currently under threat. Groundwater is an important part of our water resources, but is often poorly understood. This class will introduce the basic concepts of groundwater flow, its use as a resource, and its impact on environmental hazards. International case studies will be used to illustrate the class concepts.

Who takes this course?

  • Students interested in learning more about water.
  • Geology majors and non-majors.
  • Scientists and non-scientists.


Why isn’t rainfall enough?
  • The hydrologic cycle
  • Precipitation, Evapotranspiration, and Pumping in the High Plains (U.S.), Bangladesh, and Northeastern Africa
Streams and Floods
  • Too much water: Floods
  • Dams and levees
Water stored underground
  • Geology and aquifers
  • How information from beneath the surface is obtained and interpreted.
Mapping Groundwater Flow 
  • How water levels in wells can be used to interpret groundwater flow.
  • The effects of pumping on springs in Florida and oases in NE Africa
Groundwater and Surface Water
  • The connections between groundwater flow and streams, lakes, and wetlands
  • Springs
How Slow does Groundwater Flow? Darcy’s Law and Ages
  • How do we calculate the rate of groundwater flow? Why is it important?
  • Dating groundwater ages
Pumping and Water Budgets
  • Water budgets: Inflow-Outflow=Change in Storage
  • Subsidence
Water Management
  • Water allocation
  • Transboundary (international) rivers and aquifers
  • Management strategies: storage, re-use, conservation, and treatment
Water Chemistry and Karst
  • Important reactions that affect water chemistry
  • Caves and sinkholes
Water Quality
  • Contaminant Sources
  • Saltwater and saltwater intrusion
  • Nutrients and eutrophication