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Hydrogeology at UND
The hydrogeology program in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering provides the course work and individual research necessary for the graduate to work as a groundwater professional in consulting, research, teaching, or local, state, and federal agencies. Course work and research in the program balances theory with practical field and laboratory skills.
Grand Forks lies adjacent to the Red River and near the center of the Lake Agassiz Plain. Slow upward leakage of saline water from the Ordovician Winnipeg Group and Cretaceous Dakota aquifer occurs through fine-grained glacial sediments. This creates brackish wetlands and affects the surface water and shallow groundwater quality in some areas. The regional flow pattern in the bedrock aquifers suggests that recharge occurs as far west as Montana and Wyoming. Aquifers of glacial origin abound in the region. Small but productive unconfined aquifers lie 25 miles both east and west of Grand Forks. These aquifers occur in former beaches and deltas of glacial Lake Agassiz and discharge through springs developed along the margins of incised post-glacial streams. Although the region is not significantly industrialized, groundwater quality in some places has been affected by agricultural, municipal disposal, and oil, coal, and gas extraction activities.
Leonard Hall houses the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering and the F.D. Holland, Jr. Geology Library. Leonard Hall was designed specifically for the geology department and contains ample laboratory, office, and classroom space. The Geology Library is one of the largest in the upper Midwest and has a complete collection of USGS topographic maps and publications. UND maintains subscriptions to GEOREF and Scopus, and major journals including Journal of Ground Water, Water Resources Research, Journal of Hydrology, Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, Bulletin of Engineering Geology, Environmental Geology, Hydrological Processes, Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, and Journal of Contaminant Hydrology. Also, the department houses the Environmental Analytical Research Laboratory, which includes IC, GF/AAS, and C and S analyzers.
Equipment available in the department and used in the hydrogeology program includes:
pH, oxygen, and conductivity meters - tensiometer transducer - peristaltic pump and filter - tensiometers - soil water samplers - water level tapes and probes - 1.7 in. hand pump - Manning water samplers - Hach spectrophotometer - Super Sting georesistivity imaging equipment and modeling software - Campbell CR10X data loggers - high-precision laser level - hand auguring equipment - groundwater modeling software - 1.7 in. submersible pump - transducer/data loggers - well points - portable hydraulic drill rig
The hydrogeology program also has an 8-inch production well and six observation wells (installed by the North Dakota State Water Commission) dedicated for the demonstration of pump tests, which are 12 miles west of campus.
Areas of current research interest by the faculty and students include:
- Hydrogeology of glacial sediments
- Application of geophysics in hydrogeology
- Ground, soil, and surface-water movement in wetlands
- Wellhead protection strategies
- Numerical modeling of unconfined aquifers
- Fate of agricultural chemicals in shallow unconfined aquifers
- Denitrification in aquifers
- Groundwater contaminant transport and remediation
- Wetland and riparian hydrology
- Application of GIS to solution of hydrological and water resource problems
The Department of Geology and Geological Engineering provides support for graduate research through teaching and research assistantships. Additional stipend and logistical support has come through outside agencies which include:
- UND Energy and Environmental Research Center
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- North Dakota State Department of Health
- North Dakota Geological Survey
- North Dakota EPSCoR
- North Dakota State Water Commission
- U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The Nature Conservancy
Degree offerings with a concentration in hydrogeology include the B.S. in Geology, B.S. in Geological Engineering, B.S. in Environmental Geoscience, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geology.
Courses in hydrogeology currently include:
- Contaminant Hydrogeology
- Advanced Physical Hydrogeology
- Hydrogeological Field Methods
- Groundwater Remediation
- Groundwater Modeling
- Wetland Design
In addition, courses in field and spatial hydrology are regularly offered. Support for hydrogeology comes from courses in environmental geology, geomorphology, structural geology, geophysics, engineering geology, statistical applications in geology, geochemistry, and other areas of geology. UND's civil engineering, biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics program provide opportunities to tailor studies for individual needs and goals.
Philip J. Gerla, Ph.D., Arizona - hydrogeology, environmental geology, wetland hydrology, engineering geology.
William D. Gosnold, Ph.D., Southern Methodist - geophysics, geothermics, tectonics.
Richard D. LeFever, Ph.D., UCLA - computer and statistical applications, sedimentology.
Ronald K. Matheney, Ph.D., Arizona State University - isotope geochemistry, aqueous geochemistry.
Jaakko Putkonen, Ph.D., University of Washington - geomorphology, surface processes, Quaternary geology.