Quantitative Elements of Physical Hydrology:
Precipitation, Surface Runoff and Groundwater Flow

Geological Sciences 158
Environmental Studies 158
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Synopsis of Course: A comprehensive introduction for science, engineering and mathematics students to all aspects of the physical hydrology of precipitation, surface runoff and groundwater flow. Three weekly lecture/discussion sessions will emphasize the quantitative elements of predictive physical models, drawing on the student's background in vector calculus, differential equations and Fourier theory. Extensive class discussion will assess the practical application of specific models. Group collaboration encouraged. One recitation period/week. Labs. Theory and design problem sets. In-class optional exercises. No exams. Prerequisites: AM 34, Physics 47 (or equivalent background in vector differential equations).

Semester II; 2006-2007


Version: October 25, 2006 

John F. Hermance

Professor of Geophysics

Department of Geological Sciences

Brown University

Providence, RI 02912-1846

Office: Room 167

Geo/Chem Building

324 Brook Street

Tel.: 401-863-3830

Fax: 401-863-2058

e-mail: John_Hermance@Brown.Edu


Course Description

A comprehensive introduction for science, engineering and mathematics students to all aspects of the physical hydrology of surface and groundwater flow. Lecture/discussion sessions will emphasize the quantitative elements of predictive physical/mathematical models. Extensive class discussion will assess the practical application of specific models. A basic goal of the course is to develop the underpinning concepts of watershed hydrology to a level at which students can a) intuitively assess and critique the technical aspects of fundamental issues; b) perform a series of tasks commonly employed by professional hydrologists and consultants. Our primary objective is to provide the qualitative and quantitative background (and practical experience) for more advanced undergraduate activity, such as an advanced seminar or lecture course, independent research, senior thesis or other such capstone experiences in their Brown career, as well as to lay the foundation for employment in the environmental area upon graduating from Brown. Graduate students will be provided with a general introduction to the physical processes of watersheds that they may find useful in their research, more advanced classes, or post graduate activities in academia, government or industry.

Topics will include watershed delineation, precipitation, infiltration, overland flow, streamflow generation, floods, the interaction between surface waters and groundwater, groundwater flow and contaminant migration. Lectures and group discussions will develop the underlying physical principles, and will extend an intuitive view of these processes to predictive quantitative models. Field and laboratory exercises will provide practical, hands-on experience in observing specific hydrological processes and measuring fundamental parameters. Depending on student interest, demonstrations of, and activities using, state-of-the-art computer codes will reinforce concepts introduced in lectures, although familiarity with computers is not required. Students may either select or be assigned an individual or small group research project on a topic (or topics) of their choice to adapt the course material to their own personal interests and/or needs (some examples are attached). The credit for this might range from a few percent to as much as 15% of the final grade. (In exceptional cases, arrangements might be made for one or more term projects to count toward a larger percentage of the final grade see Instructor before mid-semester.)

Active class participation is expected in discussions of formal course material, related reports in the media, in the technical literature (not necessarily current) and on the Internet. Students will be judged on their interest level and development, not on their preexisting quantitative background. Inquiries concerning the class are welcomed by the instructor.

Prerequisites: AM 34 and Physics 47, or equivalents. Exceptions to these prerequisites can be made on an individual basis by the instructor in consultation with the student. Permission will be based on the student's needs, motivation and interest in the material. Can be taken in addition to GE/ES0058 and GE/ES0159 with permission of the instructor.

Text 1: To be determined.

Text 2: Hermance, J.F., "A Mathematical Primer on Groundwater Flow", Prentice Hall.

Instructor: Jack Hermance; Office: GeoChem 167, xt 3-3830; e-mail: John_Hermance@Brown.Edu


Biographical Summary of Instructor

"Jack" (John F. Hermance)

Professor of Geophysics/Hydrology, Brown University. Ph.D. in Physics, University of Toronto, 1967. Major research interests: environmental geophysics, particularly those activities related to groundwater and watershed studies. Has directed numerous geophysical field projects in Iceland, the Azores, the Yukon, Canada, major volcanic centers in the western United States, and the Northeast U.S. Author of 70+ publications. Research Associate, MIT, 1967-68; participant in NASA/MIT Apollo Applications Program: responsible for designing and assessing feasibility of various radio frequency (MF, HF & VHF) electromagnetic "sounder" experiments during manned lunar landings. Joined Brown Faculty in 1968. Visiting Faculty Fellow at Phillips Petroleum Research Center, Bartlesville, OK, 1974; Visiting Senior Research Associate, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, 1975-76. Member: American Geophysical Union, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, National Ground Water Association/Association of Ground Water Scientists & Engineers, Society of Environmental & Engineering Geophysicists. Best Presentation Award, Society of Exploration Geophysicists Annual Meeting, 1974. Member NASA/MAGSAT Investigators' Team. Member Inter-Union Commission on the Lithosphere/CC-5. Executive Committee and Board Member of the DOSECC Corporation (Deep Observation and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust through scientific drilling), 1984-87. Scientific Advisory Committee for Long Valley Deep Exploration Well, DOE/GTD & Sandia National Laboratories, 1985-94. OSHA Certified: Health & Safety Operations at Hazardous Materials Sites 29 CFR 1910.120 (e) (3).


Senior Geophysicist; Conrad Geoscience, Corp. (Current).

Principal Coordinator, Geophysical Sensing Experiment on Kilauea Iki Lava Lake, Hawaii: A cooperative experiment of Sandia Laboratories, U. of Texas at Austin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U. S. Geological Survey, Brown U. and Columbia U., 1976-81.

Associate Editor, Environmental Geology, 1980-82.

Chairman of Thermal Regimes Panel, National Academy of Sciences Continental Scientific Drilling Committee, 1982-85.

Associate Editor, Tectonophysics, 1987-1992.

Chairman & Principal Editor of Proceedings of the Workshop on the National Geomagnetic Initiative, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, March, 1992.

Author of textbook: "A Mathematical Primer on Groundwater Flow", Prentice-Hall, 1998.

Member, Standing Committee on Hydrologic Measurement Systems, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences, Inc. (CUASHI), 2001-2003.

Current research includes:

Watershed characterization, groundwater studies, aquifer characterization, & subsurface flow modeling;

Development of adaptive signal processing techniques to extract temporal and spatial vegetation signatures from remote sensing data;

Site studies assessing presence and potential migration of hazardous materials, including chemicals, solvents and fuels, among others;

Development of new geophysical procedures applied to groundwater investigations, as well as to delineating subsurface infrastructure: pipelines, underground storage tanks, foundations, etc.