GG640 Coastal geochemistry

Instructor: Henrieta Dulaiova, POST 707, 956-0720,

Office hours: Available by appointment.

Lecture: Tue – Thu 10:30-11:45 am, POST 702.


Libes: Introduction to marine geochemistry (recommended)

Stumm&Morgan: Aquatic chemistry (recommended)

Cochran&Krishnaswami: U- and Th series nuclides in aquatic systems (recommended)

Peer reviewed literature provided through Laulima


Course Description:

Geochemistry at the land-ocean interface: coastal hydrology, subterranean estuaries and coastal mixing and their importance in governing the distribution of selected radiotracers, trace metals and nutrients. Combined lecture-lab course with field trips and group projects.

This interdisciplinary course offers insight into geochemistry at the land-ocean interface and the processes that govern the distribution of chemical compounds. The course provides the students with the opportunity to combine theory and experiments from three disciplines: hydrology, geology and oceanography. Students can learn about the relevance of these fields to society (groundwater sustainability, coastal water quality and biological implications), including those appropriate to Hawaii.


Students are expected to have solid background in mathematics (MATH 241 or MATH 251A) and in chemistry (CHEM 162) or consent of the instructor.

At the end of the course the students will be able to:

identify coastal processes that have significant influence on coastal chemical budgets;

specify the major chemical processes in subterranean estuaries;

name and apply geochemical tracers useful for the assessment of coastal hydrological processes;

apply mass balance models to calculate submarine groundwater discharge, coastal mixing rates and sedimentation rates;

describe the connection between coastal hydrology, marine pollution, oceanic chemical element budgets and biological processes.

Activities and assignments by which students are expected to learn the course materials:

Paper discussions

In-class exercise of geochemical tracer model calculations

Homework assignments on model calculations

Field excursion and sample collection

Laboratory exercise of sample analysis


Testing & Grading: The final grade for the course will reflect the students’ performance in lecture and lab assignments. The test/quiz and lab weighting is as follows: homework (40%), class projects (50%), quizzes (10%).

Homework: There will be two homework assignments (each worth 20% of grade) 1) derive radon mass balance and 2) radium age calculations. Based on the literature presented in class (two papers that describe these models in detail: Moore, 2000 and Burnett and Dulaiova, 2003) each student will create a model and present it to the class.

Class Project (worth 50% of grade):  There will be one field trip during which we will collect samples from a groundwater plume and subterranean estuary. We will follow up with sample analysis in the lab and data interpretation in class.


Laulima: Course resources (power point slides from lectures and handouts) will be posted on Laulima under the “resources” link on the course site. In addition all homework assignments must be turned in electronically as an MS Excel document. To do this follow the “drop box” link to access your personal folder. To access the Laulima course web site use a web browser to visit the following address: Click on the tab with the heading: GG640-001 MAN.88666.SP13.

Tentative schedule                                                              Spring Semester 2013 


Class # and topic covered


1        Overview of water cycle, acid/base and redox chemistry, chemical equilibria

Stumm&Morgan:Aquatic Chemistry, Libes:Intro into Marine BGC

2        Trace metal chemistry, precipitation and dissolution, the solid solution interface

Stumm&Morgan:Aquatic Chemistry, Libes:Intro into Marine BGC

3        Chemical composition of natural waters

Stumm&Morgan:Aquatic Chemistry, Libes:Intro into Marine BGC

4        C, N, P, S cycles

Stumm&Morgan:Aquatic Chemistry, Libes:Intro into Marine BGC; Seitzinger et al., 2010

5        Diagenesis

Stumm&Morgan:Aquatic Chemistry, Libes:Intro into Marine BGC

6        Overview of radioactivity

Chopin: Radiochemistry

7        Intro into radiotracers (radon, radium, uranium, thorium, lead)

U and Th series Nuclides in Aquatic Systems by Cochran and Krishnaswami

8        Sediment accumulation rates –Pb-210 dating

Appleby and Oldfield

9        Overview of hydrology - hydrologic cycle: watershed, precipitation, evapotranspiration, infiltration, groundwater


10     Aquifers


11      Estuaries

Froelich et al., 1986

12     The subterranean estuary –structure, redox, geochemical zonation, trace metal chemistry

Moore, 1999, Charette, 2002, 2006; Dulaiova 2008

13     The subterranean estuary – biogeochemistry, nutrients

Kroeger and Charette, 2008

14     Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD)

Moore 1996; Burnett et al., 2006

15     Assessment of SGD – overview of methods

Burnett et al., 2006

16     Assessment of SGD - geochemical tracers

U and Th series Nuclides in Aquatic Systems by Cochran and Krishnaswami

17     Lab: radon and radium measurements

Moore and Arnold, 1995; Radon in groundwater

18     SGD typology

Bokuniewicz, 1999

19     SGD as a source of nutrients into the coastal zone

Valiela, 1996;

20     SGD’s influence on the chemical budgets in the ocean

Charette, 2006

21     SGD implication on biological processes in the coastal zone

Dailer et al., 2009; Umezawa, 2008

22     The fate of groundwater derived components in the ocean

U and Th series Nuclides in Aquatic Systems by Cochran and Krishnaswami; Moore, 2000

23     Field exercise at Wailupe Beach


24     Lab: sample processing and data analysis


25     Lab: sample processing and data analysis

26     Lab: sample processing and data analysis

27     Lab: sample processing and data analysis


28     Discussion of field results


29     Discussion of field results


30     Class presentation


31     Class presentation


32     Discussion – relevant research directions


33     Discussion - relevant research directions



Graduate Student Learning Outcomes as defined by the GG department:

For the M.S.

  1. Acquire knowledge and skills that will enable her or him to advance the state of the Earth sciences and their application to societal problems.
  2. Evaluate the hypotheses, methods, results and conclusions of published literature relevant to a chosen scientific problem.
  3. Define an appropriate and tractable thesis objective, in consultation with his or her advisor.
  4. Present and defend her or his scientific findings in front of a public audience.
  5. Write a thesis which documents his or her contribution to the field.


For the PhD

  1. Satisfy the SLOs for the M.S.
  2. Comprehensively synthesize, evaluate, and interpret the fundamental knowledge in her or his sub-discipline.
  3. Independently construct scientific hypotheses and design and carry out research to evaluate them.
  4. Critically analyze and synthesize the results of their research, derive conclusions which advance the field, and be capable of writing a manuscript describing these in the peer-reviewed literature.


Disability Access:
If you have a disability and related access needs the Department will make every effort to assist and support you.  For confidential services students are encouraged to contact the Office for Students with Disabilities (known as “Kokua”) located on the ground floor (Room 013) of the Queen Lili'uokalani Center for Student Services:

      KOKUA Program
2600 Campus Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
Office hours 7:45 AM – 4:30 PM
Voice: 956-7511