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An on-campus well field for hydrogeophysics education and undergraduate research

October 24, 2006

The emerging subdiscipline of hydrogeophysics is underdeveloped in undergraduate curricula relative to its importance in professional engineering/environmental practice. In 2001, the Bucknell Department of Geology initiated efforts to refocus an undergraduate geophysics course on near-surface geophysical methods for hydrologic, environmental, and engineering problems. In addition to offering students practical experience, treatment of hydrogeophysics provides important pedagogical opportunities. Field-based hydrogeophysics labs challenge students to integrate concepts from other geology courses, as well as from physics, math, and chemistry.

We faced two challenges in revising our geophysics course: (1) access to wells for field exercises on borehole geophysics; and (2) the costs of acquiring and maintaining equipment. We pursued two strategies to solve these problems. First, we established an on-campus well field, which serves as a field laboratory for downhole and cross-hole experiments. Second, we incorporated field demonstrations and lectures by professional geoscientists, including alumni, into our courses. By adding field exercises to our syllabi and promoting undergraduate research, we are building a cutting-edge dataset that includes televiewer and standard wellbore logging, cross-hole tomography, and hydraulic-test data. Student-led analysis of these data has already provided valuable insights into the control of fractures on aquifer properties, and these observations are being combined with outcrop studies to place our results in a more regional context.

Publication Year 2006
Title An on-campus well field for hydrogeophysics education and undergraduate research
DOI 10.5408/1089-9995-54.4.480
Authors Frederick D. Day-Lewis, Mary Beth Gray, Robert L. Garfield, A. Day-Lewis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geoscience Education
Index ID 70206203
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of Ground Water