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What does a Hydrogeologist do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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A hydrogeologist is a scientist who researches groundwater systems. He or she conducts field studies to determine the location, size, and movement of underground water reservoirs. Research hydrogeologists often analyze soil, rock, and water samples in laboratories to check for contaminants and other abnormalities. Professionals who work for private research foundations and nonprofit environmental groups advocate public awareness of pollution concerns and advocate more responsible use of groundwater resources. A strong knowledge of geologic principles, environmental science, statistics, and physics is essential in the job.

Most hydrogeologists work for universities and private research laboratories. They conduct independent field and laboratory research to learn more about the hydrogeologic activity in a particular area. Scientists might take soil and water samples from a reservoir to test them for pollution and natural contaminants, such as toxic elements and living bacteria. A research hydrogeologist can determine whether groundwater is safe for use in industry and commercial consumption.

A hydrogeologist may be employed by a consulting firm to help determine the best ways to access and extract groundwater resources. Scientists utilize advanced computer programs and imaging technology to map groundwater reservoirs and simulate different drilling and well tapping strategies. A detailed understanding of engineering is important in the design of drills and water treatment facilities.

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Government hydrogeologists are often involved in making and improving laws related to groudwater usage. Professionals analyze geologic surveys and statistics to determine the most efficient, safest ways to access groundwater. They calculate the size of wells and predict when resources will eventually be drained. Scientists use their data to create detailed, official reports and advise government officials on the creation of new policies.

An experienced hydrogeologist might choose to work for a environmental protection group or specialized research facility to help educate the public about groundwater issues. They create educational websites and books, and work directly with the public to promote awareness of the dangers of pollution and the importance of sustainability. Many hydrogeologists become involved in active cleanup efforts in areas that have become polluted by waste or oil spills.

In most countries, the minimum educational requirement to become a hydrogeologist is a bachelor's degree in hydrology, geology, or environmental science. Individuals who want to conduct independent research studies or become involved in policymaking are often required to hold doctoral degrees. Most new hydrogeologists work as field researchers or laboratory assistants for several years so that they can gain the practical experience necessary to organize original projects.

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candyquilt
Post 3

@burcidi-- I don't think that geohydrologists and hydrogeologists are the same. I think the first one refers to hydrologists working within geology and the latter, which is described in this article, is a geologist that works within hydrology. The second part of the name is the type of scientist, the first part is what they are studying.

So a hydrogeologist literally is a geologist or a scientist who studies the earth and how water interacts with the earth-how it is distributed in the earth and how the earth affects its properties.

I know that it can get a little confusing. That's why I always rely on what the actual name of the profession is. Even if you don't know much about geology or hydrology, you can still figure out what a hydrogeologist does by its name. Hydro means water and geology means earth! Much simpler right?

burcidi
Post 2

@simrin--Both hydrogeologists and groundwater hydrologists work on groundwater but their methods are different. Hydrogeologists study geology and groundwater hydrologists study engineering. Groundwater hydrologists usually concentrate on how groundwater interacts with other surfaces like soil and air. Hydrogeologists on the other hand look at the quality and other characteristics of groundwater.

I have seen the two used interchangeably though. There is even a third term for this profession called geohydrologist. Geohydrologist and hydrogeologist is the same thing. And all three sometimes have the same or very similar educational backgrounds.

SteamLouis
Post 1

Is a hydrogeologist and groundwater geologist the same thing?

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