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Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, as shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many reas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world where there is climate change. Groundwater is a free course that helps you examines the options.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • use information from wells, the topography of the ground and a water table contour map, to carry out the following: interpret cross-sections, calculate the thickness of the unsaturated zone, and the rate of groundwater flow; deduce the direction in which groundwater is flowing; and estimate the depth to the saline interface in a coastal area from the height of the water table
  • list the types of rock that usually make good aquifers, and assess how good an aquifer a rock could be, given its porosity and hydraulic conductivity
  • distinguish between unconfined and confined aquifers, and recognize conditions in confined aquifers that will produce a flowing artesian well
  • use suitable data to calculate the exploitable storage, specific yield and specific retention of an aquifer.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 10 hours
  • Updated Tuesday 22nd March 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Environmental Science
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Unit image

Many people have the impression that underground water occupies vast caverns, such as those in the Derbyshire Peak District, flowing from one cavern to another along underground rivers. This is a common misconception: underground caverns are fairly rare, but huge quantities of water exist underground, within rocks. This is because many rocks contain pores, spaces that come in all shapes and sizes. In sediments, and consequently sedimentary rocks, there are often pores between grains which can be filled with water. There may also be spaces between rock beds or along joints, fractures or fissures which can also contain water. However, before we look at pores in more detail we will examine how water gets into the rock.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in Environment & Development [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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