Groundwater Geochemistry

Course content

The course attendants will:

  • Evaluate water-rock interactions controlling inorganic groundwater geochemistry and ultimately, drinking water quality.
  • Combine the use of classical methods and of 1D-reactive transport modeling (PHREEQC), to substantiate a qualitative and quantitative interpretation of water chemistry development along flow paths.
  • Trace water chemistry as it develops in the hydrological cycle: in rain water, through the aquifer and to its discharge, by using major ion chemistry, and other solutes, as natural tracers.
  • Formulate problem-specific chemical reaction equations for geochemical processes encountered by flowing groundwater, such as mineral dissolution and precipitation, ion exchange, diffusion and dispersion, surface adsorption and redox processes.
  • Use groundwater chemistry data to delineate the geology, hydrogeology, and hydrological processes such as flow paths and travel times, and vice versa.

Exercises and assignments comprise real datasets, presenting the students with major global groundwater quality issues of today.


MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience

Learning outcome

Attendants will acquire knowledge on: Water quality and analysis accuracy; the relation between aqueous inorganic geochemistry, aquifer mineralogy and hydrogeology; controlling geochemical processes/water-rock interaction (mineral dissolution and precipitation, saturation state, ion exchange, surface complexation, redox reactions); diffusion and dispersion in relation to groundwater chemistry; chemical speciation in water, batch and 1D reactive transport modeling with PHREEQC (generic aqueous geochemistry code).

Attendants will acquire skills to: Assess quality of water and water analyses; write and make use of reaction equations for various water-rock interactions, and equations for diffusion/dispersion; assess controlling geochemical processes based on water analyses, aquifer mineralogy and hydrogeology; conduct chemical speciation, batch and 1D reactive transport modeling with PHREEQC.

Competences acquired: Break-down data sets of water analyses, aquifer mineralogy and hydrology to evaluate qualitatively and quantitatively the geochemical and hydrogeological processes controlling groundwater chemistry and drinking water quality. Combine and reformulate general chemical reaction equations for aqueous and solid-aqueous processes into problem-specific reaction equations which clearly express the nature of the problem. To formulate and test hypotheses, and make predictions, regarding groundwater geochemistry by conducting numerical speciation, batch and reactive transport modeling.

The form of teaching is preparation, lectures, class exercises and discussions, case studies, and project‐related work.

Appelo, C. A. J., & Postma, D. (2005). Geochemistry, Groundwater and Pollution (2nd ed.). Balkema; Available at Academic books for about 450 DKK.

See Absalon for a more detailed list of course litterature.

BSc in Geology and Geoscience or equivalent is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

Continuous written, oral, individual and collective, feedback during the course.

The course attendants will receive constructive written and oral feedback (in addition to the mark) to each of the assignments during the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Three written assignments (I, II and III) each counting 33.3% of the final mark must be prepared and handed in during the course; deadlines are specified in the course plan handed out at course start.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 144
  • Theory exercises
  • 50
  • English
  • 206