Data Points: Hydro Field Camp Blog!

This is the first blog post in a series covering the Hydrogeology Field Camp which has nine undergraduates and seven graduate students. The observations and images are by Neelarun Mukherjee, a graduate student working towards his doctorate under the supervision of Bayani Cardenas who is credited with the photos. Read the next blog post here.

HORNSBY BEND (May 26, 2022)—The main goal of the first week of the field camp is to acquaint future hydrogeologists—the 16 students—with the tools and instruments of professional hydrologists and scientists. So, to learn how to do field surveys, we piled into several vehicles and headed east of Austin, Texas to Hornsby Bend on the lower Colorado River.

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Next to the Colorado River. Image by Bayani Cardenas

Our initial site is near the Hergotz Crossing, a riparian zone just beside the Colorado River. Our objective was to look at the groundwater chemistry and flow dynamics and how that changes with the stage height of the Colorado River due to the periodic water releases from the Longhorn Dam at USGS Gauge Station 08158000. We surveyed the water table spatially and temporally with changes in stage data with very precise instruments and performed infiltration experiments to understand the recharge at different locations along the flow path.

In order to survey, we used wells that had already been installed by previous Hydrogeology Field Camps and introduced to pump tests. Pump tests are experiments that draw water from a well as a controlled rate, allowing us to observe draw-down and recovery curves. This is done with real-time monitoring of the hydraulic head in both the pumping and observation wells. We also put down transducers in the wells to monitor the recovery for a longer time.