651-3507-00L  Introduction to Oceanography and Hydrogeology

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersD. Vance, M. O. Saar
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


651-3507-00 VEinführung in die Ozeanographie und Hydrogeologie
Die Lehrveranstaltung ist zweisprachig. Teil Deutsch: M. Saar , Teil Englisch: D. Vance.
2 hrs
Thu14:15-16:00NO C 6 »
D. Vance, M. O. Saar

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course is designed to provide an introduction to hydrogeology and oceanography for all Earth Science students at ETH. It provides an overview of the physical controls on water flow in streams, aquifers, and the oceans. It also deals with the basics of groundwater chemistry, biogeochemical cycling in the oceans, the role of the oceans as carbon reservoirs and their dynamic redox state.
ObjectiveTo understand and describe the basic principles of the hydrologic cycle and water flow in streams and aquifers.

To conduct simple calculations of water transfer in streams and aquifers as well as of flood frequencies and magnitudes.

To discuss surface and groundwater as a water resource.

To interpret different ion distributions in aquifers in terms of bacic water chemistry, fluid-mineral reactions, water contamination, and water origin.

To understand the major features of ocean basins and the tectonic controls on their structure.

To identify the major controls on the temperature, salinity and density structure of the oceans.

To describe how these controls interact to drive surface and interior ocean circulation.

To interpret different kinds of element distribution in the oceans in terms of basic chemistry, sinks, sources and internal biogeochemical cycling.

To discuss the cycles of carbon and oxygen in the ocean, with a view to the critical analysis of how the oceans respond to, cause and record the dynamics of these cycles in Earth history.
ContentThis course provides an introduction to oceanography and hydrogeology, with a special focus on the basic physicochemical concepts that control the properties and behaviour of two major reservoirs of water on Earth.

The hydrogeology component will: 1) describe the hydrologic cycle, with a focus on the importance of groundwater to society; introduce the basic physical aspects of groundwater flow, including Darcy's law, hydraulic head, hydraulic conductivity, aquifers; 2) describe the basics of groundwater chemistry, including major ions and mean meteoric water line, basics of groundwater contamination; 3) introduce the interface with the oceans, including hydrothermal circulation at mid-ocean ridges, ocean-water intrusion into groundwater at coasts.

The oceanography component will: 1) provide an overview of the physical circulation of the oceans, including its importance for heat transfer around the surface of the Earth and for climate; 2) describe the basic processes that control the chemistry of the oceans, including its temporal and spatial variability; 3) introduce some simple concepts in biological oceanography, including the dependence of ocean ecology on nutrient distributions. There will be a specific focus on how the physics, chemistry and biology of the ocean might have changed through Earth history, and the impact of oceanic processes on Earth's climate.
Lecture notesAvailable
LiteratureTalley, L.D., Pickard, G.L., Emery, W.J. and Swift, J.H. Descriptive Physical Oceanography, an Introduction. (2011) Online textbook, available at Link.

Libes, S.M. (2009) Introduction to marine biogeochemistry. 2nd edition. Academic Press
Prerequisites / NoticeChemie I and II, Physik I and II, Mathematik I and II.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
In examination block forBachelor's Degree Programme in Earth and Climate Sciences 2016; Version 25.02.2020 (Examination Block 2)
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersD. Vance, M. O. Saar
Typesession examination
Language of examinationGerman
RepetitionThe performance assessment is offered every session. Repetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Mode of examinationwritten 60 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationVorlesung Teil Vance Englisch, Saar Deutsch.

Die Schlussnote berechnet sich aus der schriftlichen Prüfung und die während des Semesters zu absolvierenden Übungen(Lernelemente, fakultativ), bieten eine Gelegenheit die Noten zu verbessern. Die Gesamtnote kann maximal um +0.25 verbessert werden. Die Maximalnote kann auch ohne die Lernelemente erzielt werden.

Die Prüfungsfragen werden in deutscher und englischer Sprache gestellt. Sie können auf Deutsch oder Englisch beantwortet werden.
Written aidsEinfacher nicht-kommunikationsfähiger Taschenrechner ohne Textspeicher
Ein doppelseitiges DIN A4-Blatt mit handgeschriebenen Notizen und Gleichungen.
If the course unit is part of an examination block, the credits are allocated for the successful completion of the whole block.
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

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No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Earth and Climate Sciences BachelorExamination Block 2OInformation