Exploring a shallow unconfined aquifer

1.0 hrs
Run online using:
  1. Jupyter
  2. Lab
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    Gregory Tucker at CIRES, CSDMS, and Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder.

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This lab explores the physics behind unconfined groundwater aquifers. The lab is based on a 1D numerical model of an aquifer formed on top of a horizontal impermeable unit. The calculates the evolution of the aquifer's thickness profile, with an impermeable "wall" on one end, a seepage face on the other, and a constant recharge rate from above. Students can experiment with different values of hydraulic conductivity and different recharge rates. The model embedded in the notebook generates an animation showing the water table over time. One the model has been run, students can use matplotlib commands to plot the discharge and vertically averaged Darcian velocity.

Classroom organization
Lab is designed for undergraduate students majoring in earth sciences (hydrology, environmental sciences, hydrogeology). The notebook is demonstration style and gives participants the possibility to explore interactively.

Learning objectives
  • basic plotting with the Python matplotlib library
Key concepts
  • groundwater and shallow aquifers
  • hydraulic conductivity
  • recharge
  • Darcy's Law

Lab notes

The notebook can be used as part of a paper assignment or problem set on groundwater.

This lab can be run on either the lab (for educators) or jupyter (for general use) instance of the OpenEarthscape JupyterHub: just click one of the links under the Run online using heading at the top of this page, then run the notebook in the "CSDMS" kernel.

If you don't already have a JupyterHub account, follow the instructions to sign up at If you're an educator, you can get JupyterHub accounts for students--please contact us through the CSDMS Help Desk:

If run locally, this lab requires the installtion of the Python packages numpy, matplotlib, and ipython.