NIGK21006U Aqueous Geochemistry

Volume 2021/2022

MSc Programme in Geology-Geoscience


The course attendants will:

  • Evaluate water-rock interactions controlling inorganic aqueous geochemistry and, ultimately, element cycling with water movement in the hydrosphere, as well as drinking water quality.
  • Combine the use of classical methods and of 1D-reactive transport modeling (PHREEQC), to substantiate a qualitative and quantitative interpretation of water chemistry development along flow paths (e.g., in aquifers) and diffusion-controlled gradients (e.g., seabed).
  • Trace water chemistry as it develops in the terrestrial hydrological cycle: in rain water, through aquifers and to its discharge, by using major ion chemistry as natural tracers.
  • Formulate and apply problem-specific chemical reactions for aqueous geochemical processes, such as mineral dissolution and precipitation, ion exchange, diffusion and dispersion, surface adsorption and redox processes.
  • Use groundwater chemistry data to delineate the geology, hydrogeology, and hydrological processes such as flow paths and travel times, and vice versa.


Exercises and assignments comprise real datasets, presenting the students with major global issues of today that can be observed, evaluated or solved within the discipline of aqueous geochemistry. Modern examples presented include: silicate weathering and the carbon cycle; permafrost and wetland hydrochemistry; assessing nitrogen cycling using 2D reactive transport modelling; and ocean acidification.

Learning Outcome

Knowledge: Attendants will acquire knowledge on:

  • Major chemistry of water, water quality, and analysis accuracy 
  • the relation between aqueous inorganic geochemistry, sediment mineralogy, and water movement/hydrogeology that control geochemical processes/water-rock interaction (mineral/gas dissolution and precipitation/degassing, saturation state and partial gas pressures, ion exchange, surface complexation, redox reactions) 
  • diffusion and dispersion in relation to aqueous inorganic geochemistry 
  • chemical speciation in water, batch and 1D reactive transport modeling with PHREEQC (a free, generic aqueous geochemistry code).


Skills: Attendants will acquire skills to:

  • Assess quality of water and water analyses; write and make use of geochemical reaction equations for various water-rock interactions, and equations for diffusion/dispersion;
  • assess controlling geochemical processes based on water analyses, sediment mineralogy, and hydrogeology;
  • conduct chemical speciation, batch and 1D reactive transport modeling with PHREEQC.


Competences: Competences acquired:

  • Break-down data sets of water analyses, sediment mineralogy and hydrology to evaluate qualitatively and quantitatively the geochemical and physical/hydrogeological processes controlling element fluxes and aqueous geochemistry of the hydrosphere, including groundwater chemistry and drinking water quality.
  • Combine and reformulate general geochemical reaction equations for aqueous and solid-aqueous processes into problem-specific reaction equations which clearly express the nature of the problem at hand.
  • To formulate and test hypotheses, and make predictions, regarding groundwater geochemistry by conducting numerical speciation, batch and reactive transport (flow or diffusion) modeling.

Please see Absalon course page.

BSc in Geology, Physical Geography, Geosciences, Marine Sciences, Environmental Engineering, Inorganic Chemistry, or equivalent is recommended.
The form of teaching is preparation, lectures, class exercises and discussions, case studies, and project‐related work.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Exercises
  • 35
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)

The course attendants will receive constructive written and oral feedback (in addition to the mark) to each of the assignments during the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Three written assignments (I, II and III) each counting 33.3% of the final mark must be prepared and handed in during the course; deadlines are specified in the course plan handed out at course start.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

For the re-exam, the student submits revised versions of the three written assignments (I, II and III) from the ordinary exam. The revised assignments must be handed in during the re-examination week and each count 33.3% of the final mark.

Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome.