KAUST, Spring 2010


ErSE 202 / EnSE 224: Computational Groundwater Hydrology

Course Syllabus


Meeting Time and Location:

2:30-4:00pm Mondays and Wednesdays in Building 9, Room 3225



Dr. Shuyu Sun

Telephone: +966 2808-0342

Email: shuyu.sun@kaust.edu.sa


Teaching Assistant:   

                        Dr. Jisheng Kou

Email: jisheng.kou@kaust.edu.sa


Office Hours:

8:30-10:00am Sundays and Tuesdays (no appointment needed during office hours)

Location: Dr. SunŐs office at Building 1, Room 4409


Goals and Objectives: The aim of this course is to introduce the basic theory and computational techniques for modeling subsurface porous media flow and contaminant transport.  At the end of the course students will be able to construct conceptual and mathematical models that represent simplified scenarios of subsurface flow and transport, and students are expected to be able to implement the mathematical models into numerical simulators using a high-level programming language such as MATLAB.


Course Description: Understanding and modeling of flow and contaminant transport in geological formation is required for making decisions associated with the management of groundwater resources and the remediation of contaminated aquifers.  This course will cover the basic theory and numerical computation of incompressible single-phase flow in porous media as well as related contaminant transport processes involving convection, diffusion, adsorption and reaction. In the class, we present not only the models that describe phenomena of flow and solute transport in aquifers, but also to emphasize the theoretical foundation and the various assumptions that simplify the complex reality to the extent that it can be described by rather simple and solvable models.  We will first provide basic physical laws governing flow and transport in porous media, and then discuss rock and fluid properties.  Then derivation of mathematical models for subsurface porous media flow and contaminant transport will be covered.  After briefly mentioning a few analytical approaches to solve these model equations, we will focus on numerical solution approaches.  Finite difference methods, especially the mass-conservative block-centered finite difference scheme, will be formulated for both the pressure equation and the convection-diffusion-reaction equation.  We will gently and briefly introduce a number of important finite volume and finite element approaches for the numerical modeling of groundwater flow and species transport.  Implementation of numerical simulators, especially of finite difference groundwater simulators, is one focus of this course.  Students will have opportunities to earn hands-on experiences of developing their own numerical simulators for subsurface flow and transport using MATLAB (or a language of your choice with consent of instructor).  If time allows, we may briefly touch upon subsurface multiphase flow including two-phase (air-water) flow and three-phase (air-water-NAPL) flow as applied to environmental modeling.


Prerequisite: AMCS 201 (or AMCS 199 or ErSE 120) and basic programming skills in MATLAB, or consent of instructor



1)        Modeling Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport, by Jacob  Bear and Alexander H.-D. Cheng. Published by Springer. 1st edition (January 1, 2010). ISBN: 978-1402066818.

2)        Computational Methods for Multiphase Flows in Porous Media (Computational Science and Engineering), by Zhangxin Chen. Published by Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. 1st edition (March 30, 2006). ISBN: 978-0898716061.


Grading Policy:

Home assignments and pop quizzes: 30%  

Mid-term exam (Monday, March 15, 2010):  20%

Semester project (including proposal, presentation, and final report): 50%  

No final exam.

A: 95–100;          A-: 90–94;         B+: 85–89;

B: 80–84;            B-: 75–79;          C+: 70–74;

C: 65–69;           C-: 60–64;          D+: 55–59;

D: 50–54;           D-: 45–49;           F:    0–44.


Attendance: Regular and punctual attendance is necessary for each student to maximize his/her understanding of the material. Students are expected to wait 15 minutes before leaving if the instructor is not present at the scheduled start time of the class. Excused absences include official university business and personal emergencies (medical, legal, death in the family, etc). It is the studentŐs responsibility to contact the instructor prior to the absence (when possible) and provide the documentation required for excused absences.  It is the studentŐs responsibility to make up any deficiency resulting from class absence in a timely manner, including getting class notes (from other students) and assignments.  Please carefully read the university attendance policy for additional specifics. Students who have more than 5 unexcused absences are subject to being dropped from the course.


Academic Integrity: As members of the KAUST community, we have a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others.  Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a KAUST degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.


Note: The instructor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus as necessary.