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Hydrology: study of water - occurrence, distribution, movement and chemistry of all

waters of the earth.

Hydrogeology: study of the interrelationships of geologic materials, geologic

processes with water.

Estimate of the water balance of the world

Parameter Volume by %
Oceans 97.2%
Ice caps and glaciers 2.14%
groundwater 0.61%
soil moisture 0.005%
lakes 0.017%
rivers 0.0001%

Hydrologic cycle
Only a small % of the worlds total water is available to humans as fresh water. More
than 98% of the available fresh water is groundwater, which far exceeds the volume
of surface water.

Precipitation that falls on the land surface enters various pathways of the hydrologic
cycle. Some water may be temporarily stored on the land surface as ice and snow or
water in puddles, which is known as depression storage. Some of the rain or melting
snow will drain across the land to a stream channel. This is termed overland flow. If
the soil surface is porous, some of the rain or melting snow will seep into the ground
by a process called infiltration. The infiltrated water can flow laterally in the soil
zone as interflow or percolate to beneath the water-table and become part of the
groundwater. Water flowing in a stream can come from overland flow or from
groundwater that has seeped into the streambed (baseflow). The total flow in a stream
is referred to as runoff.

Vadose zone/ zone of aeration

This is the zone below the land surface were soil pores contain both air and water.
Water stored in the vadose zone is called vadose water.

Water table
At some depth, the pores of the soil or rock are saturated with. The top of the zone of
saturation is called the water table.

The hydrologic equation provides a quantitative means of evaluating the hydrologic
cycle. This equation is based on the law of conservation.

inflow = outflow +/- changes in storage

A stream hydrograph shows the discharge of a river at a single location as a function
of time. While the total runoff shown on the hydrograph gives no indication of its
origin, it is possible to break down the hydrograph into its components of overland
flow, baseflow and direct precipitation.

Baseflow recessions
The hydrograph of stream during a period with no excess precipitation will decay,
following an exponential curve. The discharge is composed entirely of ground-water
contributions. As the stream drains water from the groundwater reservoir, the water
table falls, leaving less and less water to feed the stream. Baseflow of the stream
decreases during a dry period because, as groundwater drains into the stream, the
water table falls. A lower water table means that the rate at which groundwater seeps
into the stream declines.

The baseflow recession equation is:

Q = Qoe-at

where Q = flow at some time t after the recession started

Q = flow at the start of the recession
a = recession constant for the basin
t = time since the start of the recession

The recession constant is a function of the topography, drainage pattern, soils and

Find the recession constant for the basin of figure 1.1 given that Qo is 3500 ft3/s.

Q = Qoe-at
then e -at = Q/Qo
-at = In Q/Qo
a = -(1/t In Q/Qo)

From figure 1.1 Qo is 3500 ft3/s. After 100days, Q = 1500 ft3/s.


Fig 2.16


The porosity of earth materials is the percentage of the rock or soil that is void of
material. Porosity (n) is defined as:

n = Vv/V*100

where n = porosity (%)

Vv = volume of void space in a unit volume of earth material (m3).
V = total volume of earth material ( m3).

Porosity is determined by taking a sample of known volume (V). The sample is dried
in an oven to a temperature of 105%. This expels water in the pore/void spaces. The
dried sample is then submerged in a known volume of water and allowed to remain in
a sealed chamber until saturated. The volume of the voids (Vv)is equal to the original
water volume less the volume in the chamber after the saturated sample is removed.

Primary porosity: This is due to soil or rock matrix (Fig 2.11, Freeze and Cherry,
page 37). The primary porosity of a siliciclastic sedimentary rock will be influenced
by the grain size, sorting and grain-shape.

Secondary porosity: This is due to processes such as solution or fracturing.

Porosity of Sedimentary rocks

-The primary porosity of sedimentary rocks is acquired during diagenesis, which
involves compaction and cementation.

- Compaction reduces the porosity by rearranging grains and reshaping them.

- The deposition of cementing materials such as calcite, dolomite or silica will reduce

Porosity of igneous and metamorphic rocks

These have a low porosity because they consist of interlocking crystals.Two geologic
processes, weathering and fracturing, increase overall rock porosity (secondary


Specific yield (Sy) is the ratio of the volume of water that drains from a saturated rock
due to the attraction of gravity to the total volume of the rock.

If two samples are equivalent with regards to porosity, but the average grain-size of
one is much smaller than the other, the surface area of the finer sample will be larger.
As a result, more water can be held as pendular moisture by the finer grains Fig 3.9
page 79 Fetter).

The specific retention (Sr) of a rock or soil is the ratio of the volume of water a rock
can retain against gravity drainage to the total volume of the rock.

Therefore n = Sy + Sr
Darcy's Law
If pores are interconnected, water contained in the pores is capable of moving from
one pore to another, thus circulating through the soil or rock.

Henry Darcy made the first systematic study of movement of water through a porous
medium in 1856.

- He studied the movement of water through beds of sand.

Darcy found out that the rate of water flow through a bed of a 'given nature' is
(i) proportional to the difference in height of the water between the two ends of the
filter and (ii) inversely proportional to the length of the flow-path (iii) flow is
proportional to the cross-sectional area of the pipe

(i) Q ∞ hA - hB
(ii) Q ∞ 1/ L
(iii) Q∞A

where Q = discharge (m3/sec )

L = flow length (m)
h = hydraulic head (m)
A = cross-sectional area (m2)

Therefore, Q ∞ A* (hA-hB)/L

When a proportionality constant K is added, the expression known as Darcy's law is


Q = -K*A (hA - hB)/L

Darcy's Law can also be expressed as Q = K* A (dh/dl)

where dh/dl is the hydraulic gradient ( change of hydraulic gradient with distance
along the flow path)

We can rewrite Darcy's law as:

K = -Q/ A (dh/dl).

The proportionality constant K is referred to as the hydraulic conductivity or the

coefficient of permeability and has units of m/sec or cm/sec or m/day ( ie units of
The hydraulic conductivity K is a function of both properties of:

(i) porous medium (ie rock or soil)

(ii) fluid passing through it.
A viscous fluid such as crude oil, will move at a slower rate than water, which is
thinner. The hydraulic conductivity (K ) can be expressed as:

K = Ki (γ /μ)

where γ = the specific weight also = ρġ

μ = dynamic viscosity, which is a measure of the resistance of the fluid to
shearing that is necessary for fluid flow.

Ki = intrinsic permeability

The intrinsic permeability is a function of the porous media. Ki is related to the size of
the openings through which the fluid moves. The larger the square of the mean pore
diameter, d, the lower the flow resistance. The cross-sectional area of a pore is also a
function of the shape of the opening. The overall effect of the shape of pores is
represented by a constant C, which is a dimensionless quantity.

Therefore, the intrinsic permeability can be expressed as:

Ki = Cd2

Units of Ki can be m2, cm2 or ft2. In the petroleum industry, the unit for Ki is the darcy.

1 darcy = 9.87 *10-9 cm2.


Hazen’s method
- Used to measure the hydraulic conductivity of unconsolidated sandy sediments.
- The Hazen’s formula is:

K = C(d10)2

Where K = hydraulic conductivity

d10 = 10% of the grains have a diameter finer than this diameter.
C = coefficient based on the following table

Very fine sand 40 - 80

Medium sand, well sorted 80 - 120
Coarse sand, poorly sorted 80 - 120
Coarse sand, well sorted, clean 120 -150
Permeameters are used mainly to measure the hydraulic.

Constant-head permeameter
- Used for non-cohesive sediments such as sand.
- Water moves through the sample at a steady rate
If the fluid draining from the permeameter over some time( t) the volume(V), is the
product of the discharge (Q) and time:

Qt = -KAt(hA – hB)/L

If we substitute V for Qt the equation for calculating K with the constant head
permeameter becomes:


Falling-head permeameter
- This method is used for cohesive sediments with low permeability.

K = dt2L * In (ho/h)


A homogenous unit is one that has the same properties (K, porosity, Sy etc) at all
locations. In a heterogenous media, the hydraulic properties are not uniform
throughout the formation.

If the hydraulic conductivity varies with the direction of measurement, the formation
is anisotropic. i.e Kx ≠ Ky. If K is independent of the direction of measurement
i.e Kx = Ky =Kz, then the formation is isotropic.

An aquifer is a geological unit that can store and transmit water at rates fast enough
to supply reasonable amounts to wells. The porosity allows an aquifer to store water
and the permeability (hydraulic conductivity) allows water to flow (transmission
function). The intrinsic permeability of aquifers range from 10-2 darcy upward.

A confining layer is a geological unit having little or no intrinsic permeability (less

than 10-2 darcy). Confining layers can be subdivided into aquitards, aquicludes and
aquifuges. An aquitard is a layer of low permeability that can store groundwater and
also transmit it slowly from one aquifer to another. The term leaky confining layer is
also applied to such a unit. An aquifuge does not store any water, is absolutely
impermeable and, therefore, will not transmit any water. However, an aquifuge may
store some water. An aquiclude is a unit that can store but does not transmit water.
An unconfined aquifer (water-table aquifer) is not overlain by a confining layer.
Water can seep downwards through the unsaturated zone.

A confined aquifer is overlain by a confining layer, and is thus isolated from the
atmosphere. An aquifer which is overlain or underlain by an aquitard is called a leaky

A perched aquifer can exist above the water table due to the presence of a lens of
impermeable material which forms the base of a locally developed groundwater body.