Groundwater Hydrology - Conceptual and Computational Models

By K.R. Rushton: Published by John Wiley and Sons: Publication date: September 2003 ISBN: 0-470-85004-3 List price: 60.00

A potential pitfall with computer models of groundwater systems is that the results may look convincing (state-of-the-art graphics can make most things look believable) without the model being founded on a realistic understanding of the hydrogeological processes involved. A successful groundwater investigation involves the development of a conceptual understanding of how the groundwater flow interacts with the geology, surface water flows, local abstraction regimes, irrigation practice and a host of other factors, some of which may not be obvious. During the investigation, data are collected and used to test aspects of the model that is being developed. In many instances mathematical models are used in this process (including computer-based ones) to test a small piece of the overall picture and eventually a computer-based model may be developed to make predictions of the effects of new abstractions or other environmental impacts.

The author of this book, Ken Rushton is highly regarded by British hydrogeologists (and many from overseas) as the leading expert in groundwater modelling. Fundamental to his approach is the development of a conceptual model to understand the system rather than to simply focus on the development of a computer model. This book describes the process of developing a conceptual model from the "Rushton" perspective and is based on three decades of his personal experience.

The book is well written and the author has taken account of the contrasting needs and abilities of both those who are familiar with the mathematics involved in groundwater computations, and those who remain baffled by them. He uses numerous case histories to illustrate his points and has taken them from his work in the UK and overseas, principally in the Indian subcontinent. He makes effective use of figures and tables of data to help describe his points.

The book is divided into three parts, each containing several chapters. The first part describes the basic principles of groundwater flow, radial flow to wells and regional groundwater flow. It also introduces the concepts of numerical modelling, the need to monitor flows groundwater levels, surface water flows, discharges from boreholes and water quality parameters, including handling the growing data set. The important topics of recharge from natural and artificial sources and the interaction of surface water and groundwater systems are included. Part 2 is devoted to the radial flow towards boreholes and Part 3 covers regional groundwater flow. Both subjects are covered in detail and with many case history examples.

The book is well produced. The figures are well drawn and the index is over eight pages long and is very user friendly. There is also a list of some 350 references forming a useful bibliography. I am delighted to have this book on my shelf and find that it is already becoming well thumbed. I have no hesitation in recommending it to all those who work in any aspect of the groundwater sciences.

This review appeared in Geoscientist May 2004, Volume 14, No 5, page 19

Copyright © Geological Society 2004

Eur Geol Eur Ing Professor F.C. Brassington BSc MSc CGeol FGS CEng MICE FCIWEM