Subsurface Hydrology

CE 54400

Credit Hours:



Prof. Rao S. Govindaraju

Course Description:

This course is organized into three parts:

Part 1: Groundwater Cycle
Groundwater is the single largest reservoir of available freshwater on Earth. Part 1 explores the essential processes and properties that affect underground water.

Part 2: Wells Hydraulics
To use the water from the ground, we first have to extract it! Part 2 introduces wells hydraulics.

Part 3: Groundwater Contamination
Part 3 describes the principles of transport in aquifers so that engineers can predict and plan the safe extraction of groundwater for private and public use.

Course Learning Outcomes:

After completing this course, successful students will be able to:

Part 1

  • Describe the global and local water balance and quantify groundwater recharge from hydrographs.
  • Identify underground waters, describe the properties of aquifers, and recall their classification.
  • Explain and apply Darcy’s law.
  • Derive the groundwater flow equations, apply their solutions to solve practical problems.
  • Understand the vadose zone and the influence of soil water content on groundwater recharge.

Part 2

  • Describe the steady state flow to wells in confined and unconfined aquifers.
  • Describe the unsteady flow to wells in confined, semi-confined, and unconfined aquifers.
  • Explain slug tests.
  • Model aquifers and wells.
  • Explain how well fields work.

Part 3

  • Describe the advection and dispersion transport processes in porous media.
  • Solve advection and dispersion.
  • Solve reactive transport problems.
  • Apply transport models to real world problems.

Topics Covered:

Basic wave mechanics (wave descriptors, wave propagation, wave shoaling and refraction, and surf zone processes); water level fluctuations (storm surge, tides, and longer-timescale processes); breakwater design (armor stability, run-up, overtopping, transmission); sediment transport (wave- and current-caused); shoreline protection measures.


Undergraduate courses in hydraulics, differential equations and computer sciences are recommended, but not required.


Gradescope will be used in this course as a method for grading your submitted homework and exams.


12 homework assignments comprising 67% of the final grade


3 exams comprising 33% of the final grade

Required Textbook:

Applied Hydrogeology, C.W. Fetter, Pearson Education 0-13-88239-0

Course Help:

To get help with course content, go to Piazza using the link provided to you by your instructor and post your questions. You can ask questions related to course topics, homework, coding problems and share concerns with your peers or the instructor.

Discussion Guidelines:

Please follow the Discussion Guidelines when contributing to discussions in this course. Here are a few of the key points you should remember:

  • Do not use offensive language. Present ideas appropriately.
  • Be cautious in using Internet language. For example, do not capitalize all letters since this suggests shouting.
  • Avoid using vernacular and/or slang language. This could possibly lead to misinterpretation.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for feedback.
  • Be concise and to the point.
  • Think and edit before you push the “Send” button.