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School of Environment, Education and Development

Student of environmental monitoring and modelling at The University of Manchester
MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction
Develop your environmental fieldwork skills, data handling and analysis at master's level.

MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Water Chemistry

Unit code EART60451
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Ore genesis, petroleum reservoir engineering, oil and gas migration and contaminant transport in aquifers and surface waters are just some areas of study for which an understanding of water chemistry is required. This module provides exposure to some of the key physico-chemical processes involved in water-rock interactions with the Earth’s crust.




To outline the principles of the major physico-chemical processes involved in water-rock reactions within the Earth’s crust.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the course a successful student will understand major physico-chemical processes involved in water-rock reactions in the Earth’s crust, including:

* understand the nature of water in the crust

* understand major controls on the occurrence and flow of water in the Earth’s crust

* understand the principles of aqueous speciation

* understand the principles of mineral-fluid and gas-fluid equilibria

* understand the principles of interactions between aqueous fluids and mineral surfaces

* understand the principles of kinetic controls on water-rock reactions

* understand the principles of controls on isotopic variations in various reservoirs and during water-rock reaction.

* quantitatively determine mineral solubility, chemical speciation and progress of mass transfer (including isotopic and kinetic) processes given suitable thermodynamics, kinetic and analytical data

* with respect to a relevant problem in water chemistry, demonstrate an ability to interpret, integrate and critically evaluate data in the light of defined aims and objectives and the uncertainty that is always inherent in our knowledge of particular systems


Week 1:
Importance, applications & basics of hydrogeochemistry (DAP)

Week 2:
Chemical speciation & controls on mineral solubility (DAP)

Week 3:
Controls on the chemistry of natural waters (DAP)

Week 4:
Stable isotope fractionation processes (RB)

Week 5:
Water isotopes (RB)

Week 6:
Isotope proxies and water-rock interaction (RB)

Week 7:
Noble gas isotopes and groundwater dating (GH)

Week 8:
Tracing groundwater flow (GH)

Week 9:
Surface adsorption reactions (RAW)

Week 10:
Kinetics applied to mineral-fluid reactions (RAW)

Assessment methods

ASSESSMENT This course consists of 10x1 hour lectures each followed by a two hour problem solving practical class where you will work with the help of the lecturing staff. The practical classes allow for formative feedback on your progress with the set problems. Assessement will take the form of reports that build on and synthesise the work you have done in class. Lecturing staff will provide feedback on the reports. The course places:a 27 % weighting on the course reports;a 40 % weighting on the January exam; and a 33 % weighting on an independent project

Feedback methods

Feedback on course reports will generally be during the following weeks’ practicals.

Recommended reading

Faure, G. (1986). Principles of Isotope Geology, Wiley

Barnes, H.L. (1997) Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Ore Deposits, 3rd Ed, Wiley, 972pp.

Henley, R.W., Truesdell, A.H. & Barton, P.B., Jr. (1984) Fluid-mineral equilibria in hydrothermal systems. Reviews in Economic Geology 1, Society of Economic Geologists, 267pp.

Nordstrom, D.K. & Munoz, J.L. (1994) Geochemical Thermodynamics, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 477pp


Appelo, C.A.J. & Postma, D. (1993) Geochemistry, groundwater and pollution. Balkema, Rotterdam,536pp. [Especially chapters 1, 2 & 9]

Bethke, C.M. (1996). Geochemical Reaction Modelling. OUP, New York, 397pp.

Domenico, P.A. & Schwartz, F.W. (1990).Physical & Chemical Hydrogeology.ï¾ï'  Wiley, New York, 824pp. [Especially chapters 3,4,7-9, 11-15]

And research papers as recommended during the course.


Geochemical Society

European Association of Geochemistry

Mineralogical Society

This course-unit description was reviewed and updated (DAP) on 4 October 2012

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Practical classes & workshops 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

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