Rivers and Groundwater

Geology 1 Lab, Virtual Lab on Rivers                              Name ______________________________



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To draw on the maps in word, select Insert > Shape > Line and select this line      to draw freeform.


To complete this lab you will go to this website: https://www.sciencecourseware.org/VirtualRiver/index.html read the information there and answer the questions. In order to advance through the lab you must answer the questions correctly. You are to fill in your answers on those web pages on this answer sheet too.

Part 1: Stream Discharge

To begin the lab, go to https://www.sciencecourseware.org/VirtualRiver/index.html, click on River Discharge and start the lab.

You may either type your answers or hand write them.

Page 1:

What is the name of the creek in the photo?


How wide is the channel?


Page 2:

List two sources of water for rivers.


Page 3:

What does “cfs” stand for?


What statement best describes stream discharge?


If the stream were moving twice as fast, what would the discharge be?


Page 4:

In this diagram which side of the river is its left side?

Page 5:

In a stream, velocity is measured by using a ________________ attached to a wading rod.


Page 6:

Researchers mark their “position” in the stream by using a ___________________.


Page 7:

Which part of the stream is flowing fastest?


Page 8:

To compute the discharge of a stream, we need to compute _________, which changes with             depth.


Page 9:

The average time for 0.1D is ________. The average time for 0.4D is _________.


Page 10:

The velocity for 0.4D is __________. The velocity for 0.6D is ____________.


Page 11: This is done here for you.

To visualize the relationship between the depth of water in the stream and its velocity let’s plot up the velocity and depth data that you collected.




What conclusion can you draw from the above plot concerning how velocity changes with depth?


Part 2: Stream Order

Mark the orders off all streams and tributaries on the map below.  The smallest tributaries

are all first order.  Two first order streams make a second, two seconds make a third, etc. For clarification, please watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jCmhODUilI



What is the final stream order of this drainage pattern?



Part 3: HydroGeology Exercise

First watch this video, it is similar to this exercise and will show you how to contour and draw flow lines for the later parts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQdJPRDh_G8


Goal:  You have been given a map of an area where an underground pipeline has ruptured and has spilled toxic waste into the groundwater.  Your task is to determine which direction the toxic waste has traveled and how far it has moved.


Methods:  Step #1. The ground surface in the area is flat and has an elevation of 200 meters. A series of monitoring wells have been drilled (see map for location) and you have been given the depth to the top of the water table in each well.  Determine the elevation of the water table (relative to sea level) at each point.  This calculation is the elevation of the land (200 meters) minus the depth to the top of the water table. For example, for well #1, the calculation is 200 – 92 = 108.


Fill in the rest of the table (2 – 15) below:


Well # Depth to the top of water table Elevation of water table above sea level Well # Depth to the top of water table Elevation of water table above sea level
1. 92 m 108 m 9. 135 m  
2. 96 m 104 m 10. 145 m  
3. 97 m 103 m 11. 137 m  
4. 102 m 98 m 12. 128 m  
5. 117 m   13. 131 m  
6. 111 m   14. 129 m  
7. 108 m 92 m 15. 123 m  
8. 119 m        



Step #2:  Place the elevation numbers in the textboxes next to the corresponding well numbers on the map. Numbers 1,2 and 3 have been done for you.


Step #3: Draw contour lines (equipotential lines) on the map to show the elevation of the water table.  Use a contour interval of 10 meters. Watch this video for an additional explanation of how to draw contour lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6FbV0LiA_k

The 100 meter contour line has been done for you.


Step #4: Draw 4 flow lines, part of flow line #2 has been done for you. For additional explanation, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22iEKXkex8Q



Step #4: Determine the hydraulic gradient (h1-h2/ l).  (use the elevation of points 1(h1) and 10(h2)).  The scale of the map is 1:5000 (1cm = 50m) and the distance from point 1 to 10 is 23.2 cm.

The formula is: (h1 – h2)/(23.2 x 50) = __________ this is a unitless number because the cm and m cancel out.


Step #5:  Determine the velocity of the groundwater flow.  The velocity equals the hydraulic conductivity times the hydraulic gradient, v = k ((h1-h2)/l).  The hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer k, is 3 meters/day.

The formula is your answer from step #4 x 3 = _____________ this number s in meters/day



Step #6. Determine the distance that the groundwater would travel in


  1. A) one day = your answer to step #5 = ___________


  1. B) one year (365 days per year) x A = ___________


  1. C) five years x B = _____________



Step #7.  The toxic waste was spilled at point X.  Draw on the map where the toxic waste would have spread after 5 years.  The direction of flow is perpendicular to the contour lines and goes from high elevation to low elevation. Remember 1 cm = 50 meters. The toxic plume will take on a teardrop shape and should be drawn as such.




Flow line 1                  Flow line 2                    Flow line 3                    Flow line 4



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