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Past Syllabus

Clemson Hydrogeology Field Camp

Clemson Hydrogeology Field Camp

Clemson Hydrogeology Field Camp, GEOL 4750/8750
Summer 2019


Larry Murdoch, Brackett 337,
Scott Brame, Brackett 340B,
Mary Kate Fidler, Brackett 340C,
Contact info for other instructors on Canvas

Office Hours:  by appt

Textbook:  (recommended but not required) A Manual of Field Hydrogeology, Laura Saunders, 1998.  Additional material will be provided. 


  1. Characterize field properties and processes that are important in hydrogeology.
  2. Use the results of field measurements for applications and insight
  3. Describe the objectives, methods, and results of field activities

Prerequisites:  A course in Hydrogeology (similar to GEOL 4080/6080) is recommended.   

Course Structure:  The course is organized into four topical Modules called Aquifers, Wells, Streams, Soils, and fifth Module consisting of Field Trips.  Each Module consists of four, day-long Exercises, and a fifth day to write up and synthesize results.  The Field Trip Module consists of one trip to Kentucky that involves several overnight stays, and three day-trips.  Each Exercise has three components, Preparation, Field Exercise, and Reporting.  Preparation is done by reading and watching videos, and it ends with completing a Quiz.  The course is organized using Canvas. 

 Approach:  The Exercises will be conducted in groups of approximately 4-5 students.  You should organize the field work so everyone in the group gets a chance to do each role in each activity.  You can share data and discuss analyses.  Quizzes and Exercise write-ups should be done individually. 

 Time Expectations:   Field camp will represent a significant time commitment.  You should be prepared to be working on field camp activities during most days while camp is in session.  The timing of activities will vary each day, and we will give you a detailed schedule.   


Field exercises and projects  0.65
Quizzes and field notebook   0.25
End of Module Tests            0.10

Attendance:  It is important to attend every day of field camp.  You must inform the instructors that you will not be attending before the start of the day you are going to miss.    Failure to do this will result in the loss of up to 1 letter grade on each occurrence.  You must make up every day you miss by completing an extra assignment.  If you have a medical problem, please inform the instructors as soon as possible. You should discuss with the instructor the possibility of withdrawing from the course if you miss more than 3 days. 

Graduate credit:  Students taking this class for graduate credit will be responsible for combining individual field exercises as projects.  The project reports are optional extra credit for undergraduates.  Details of some assignments have been modified for those students taking the course for graduate credit.          


See Canvas for lists of equipment that is required and recommended.


We will be outside in a variety of conditions and you should have the appropriate clothing and equipment to take care of your personal comfort.  Shorts and a T-shirt will be fine for most days, but long pants are recommended for some situations.  It is probably best to avoid wearing sandals because they can be uncomfortable in tall grass and on uneven terrain.  These things will be useful during some of the activities:

  • Boots with ankle support, Rubber boots, waders or some type of footwear you can get wet and/or muddy, Work gloves, Knee Pads.  These will be helpful while caving
  • Sunscreen, Insect repellent, Rain gear, Field backpack, Water bottles, Hat

You should be prepared to eat lunch in the field every day.   Some days it may be possible to leave the field for lunch, but this will depend on the details of the schedule for the day.  In general, you should plan to bring something to eat for lunch or you may get hungry by dinner time. 


You are responsible for bringing water, or some other non-alcoholic beverage, in the field.  Some days we will be unable to refill water bottles during the day, so you should bring water with you in the morning.  You can easily drink 2 liters of water during a hot day in the field.     

Schedule of Exercises in a Module
Each Module consists of 4, day-long exercises, and a 5th day for reporting and synthesis.  There are up to 4 groups of students taking each Module, and they rotate doing the individual exercises.  Two Modules (Soils and Wells) have a common day where all the groups do the same Exercise.  A general schedule for Exercises during each day in a Module is listed below.  Soils and Wells have a slightly different schedule.  You will be given your schedule at the beginning of each Module (posted on the module homepage on Canvas).

Safety First
  • Use good judgement to keep you and the people around you safe.
  • Inform your instructor of any event that causes harm, or that could cause harm to you or others.
  • Let your instructor know if you have a medical condition that could require special treatment.
  • These things are known to occur in the area and should be avoided:
  • Wild animals. Rabies is uncommon, but does occur in wild animal in the area.
  • Snapping turtles, snakes, other things that may bite
  • Poison ivy, briars, poison oak, other noxious plants.  
  • Yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, mosquitoes, ticks, black widow spiders, chiggers
  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic drink to stay adequately hydrated.
  • Be aware of grogginess or other unusual behavior by others in the field that could indicate dehydration.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun. Use sunscreen, or cover exposed skin with clothing.  Use pop-up temporary shelters where feasible.  Wear a hat.
  • Be considerate of the need to breathe when spraying insect repellent, sunscreen, smoking
  • Take shelter when lightning is nearby
  • Protect your eyes against mobile debris, sharp objects, bright light.
  • Be aware of vehicles and move away from roads whenever possible. Be aware of pedestrians and other vehicles when driving in the vicinity of field camp.
  • Be aware of objects overhead that may fall or that may be struck by your head. Wear a hardhat under these conditions. 
  • Protect your ears when you are in the vicinity of loud noises. Wear ear plugs, reduce the volume, or move away from the noise source. Options for medical attention



Learning objective

A.  Aquifers

A1.  water levels

Measure water levels in wells, determine magnitude and direction of head gradients. 

A2.  hydrostratigraphy

Describe the drilling and soil sampling process, obtain core samples

A3.  spatial mapping

Understand how to measure hydraulic head and describe geologic materials 

A4.  camera survey, Core description

Describe geologic materials and features using a borehole camera and core

write up

B.   Wells

B1.  slug test

Plan, conduct and analyze a slug test in open holes and with packers

B2.  Pumping test in rock

Plan, conduct and analyze a constant rate pumping test in wells in rock

B3.  Well drilling

Understand how a water well is drilled, completed and developed

B4.  Pumping test in confined

Plan, conduct and analyze pumping test in a confined aquifer

write up

Describe the objectives, methods, and results , and use the results to address questions

C.  Streams

C1.  Stream Gauging

Measure the velocity, volumetric flow, and head gradient in streams

C2.  GW-SW interaction

Characterize the seepage flux and head gradient between a stream bed and stream

C3.  Mass Balance

Understand important processes and applications in surface water hydrology

C4.  Water quality

Obtain samples, measure basic water quality, and evaluate geochemical data

write up

Describe the objectives, methods, and results , and use the results to address questions

D.  Soils

D1. Soil description

Describe and classify soils in the field using recognized methods

D2.  Pressure, moisture

Measure pore pressure and moisture in soils in the field, and use these in applications

D3.  Soil Background

Understand important processes and applications for vadose zone hydrology

D4. Hydraulic conductivity

Measure hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils, and use in applications. 

write up

Describe the objectives, methods, and results , and use the results to address questions

E. Field Trips

E1.  Mammoth Cave

Recognize distinctive characteristics of the geology and water flow in karst regions

E2.  UT Well field

Characterize fractured rock aquifer using well tests

E3. Blue Ridge

Recognize rocks and structures characteristic of the Blue Ridge

E3.  Chattooga River

Recognize Blue Ridge geology and surface water hydrology