Current Focus on Groundwater in Environmental Activity

The increasing demand for dependable water resources and the imperative to safeguard them against pollution have brought groundwater to the forefront of contemporary environmental initiatives. Consequently, there exists a persistent and substantial demand across various sectors, including industry, regulatory agencies and environmental consulting firms for qualified hydrogeologists and groundwater geochemists.

Moreover, educational institutions, governmental agencies, and geological surveys require the expertise of these scientists to pursue further research on critical aspects such as groundwater movement, aquifer properties, contaminant transportation and the intricate interactions between geological formations and water bodies.

Our Comprehensive Approach

Our program stands out by uniting an extraordinary array of faculty specializations in groundwater studies, complemented by a remarkably diverse range of geological expertise. Graduate students who join us not only receive comprehensive training in hydrogeology, geophysics and geochemistry but also acquire the capability to consider all geological facets when addressing groundwater-related challenges. This versatility equips students to adapt to evolving environmental priorities and market demands.

Degree Offerings

We offer programs leading to both Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees, providing students with a comprehensive educational foundation to excel in the dynamic field of groundwater research and environmental stewardship.

Suggested Courses

Undergraduate and Graduate Credit

  • EAE 409X: Water Quality
  • EAE 420: Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface
  • EAE 421: Environmental Geochemistry
  • EAE 425: Engineering Geology
  • EAE 475: Geophysics
  • EAE 476: Groundwater Geophysics
  • EAE 477: Field Methods in Environmental Geosciences
  • EAE 490: Hydrogeology
  • EAE 491: Geophysical Well Logging
  • EAE 492: Hydrology

Graduate Credit Only

  • EAE 620: Geochemistry of Low-Temperature Aqueous Systems
  • EAE 624: Stable Isotope Geochemistry
  • EAE 630: Groundwater Modeling
  • EAE 632: Advanced Groundwater Hydrology
  • EAE 635: Groundwater Geology
  • EAE 637: Contaminant Hydrogeology
  • EAE 651: Applied Geophysics: Seismic and Electrical
  • EAE 654: Geophysical Field Methods
  • EAE 725: Water Resources Geochemistry

Graduate Seminar Courses

  • EAE 746Q: Geology Seminar: Hydrogeology
  • EAE 747A: Geochemistry Seminar: General Geochemistry
  • EAE 747C: Geochemistry Seminar: Environmental Geochemistry
  • EAE 748D: Geophysics Seminar: Environmental Geophysics
  • EAE 748J: Geophysics Seminar: Engineering Geology


  • Megan Brown: physical hydrogeology and induced earthquakes
  • Melissa Lenczewski: geomicrobiology, organic geochemistry and contaminant hydrogeology

Research Facilities

Departmental Resources and Equipment

The department has considerable hydrogeological field equipment for groundwater sampling, aquifer testing, downhole monitoring and well-site geochemistry. In addition, an Agilent 8700 Laser Direct Infrared (LDIR) Chemical Imaging System for the detection of microplastics in the environment is being added to the department in spring 2024. Departmental laboratories include facilities and major equipment for analysis of stable and radiogenic isotopes, major and trace elements, and organic and inorganic compounds in rocks and water. For geophysical field work, the department has resistivity, electromagnetics and shallow seismic survey equipment.

State-of-the-art Laboratories

Our department is equipped with advanced laboratories, housing major equipment essential for conducting comprehensive geological analyses. These facilities support the examination of stable and radiogenic isotopes, major and trace elements, as well as organic and inorganic compounds in both rock samples and water specimens. This robust infrastructure empowers our researchers to explore various aspects of geology and hydrogeology with precision and depth.

Geophysical Field Work Tools

For geophysical field work, our department provides access to a range of specialized equipment, including resistivity instruments, electromagnetic devices and shallow seismic survey tools. These resources enable our students and researchers to conduct geophysical investigations in diverse geological settings, expanding our understanding of subsurface dynamics.

Our commitment to providing a rich academic and research environment is underpinned by these resources and equipment, which facilitate hands-on learning and cutting-edge scientific exploration.

Hydrogeology in Illinois

Northern Illinois has abundant, but stressed, groundwater resources. Major bedrock aquifers supply much of the region's water. The overlying glacial deposits and shallow bedrock provide local supplies, control recharge to deeper aquifers, and are prone to contamination from waste disposal and other human activities. Chicago (an hour's drive from DeKalb) and its suburbs are regional headquarters for major regulatory agencies and numerous companies engaged in environmental work in Illinois and throughout the Midwest.

Downstate, Illinois has an active coal mining industry and is also one of the world's major agricultural regions. The groundwater concerns and problems of the mining and agricultural industries provide further impetus for research and professional activity. Faculty and students have cooperated extensively in hydrogeological studies with the USGS, Illinois State Geological Survey, and other regional and local agencies.

Contact Us

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Davis Hall, Room 312

815-753-1943 (undergraduate)
815-753-0631 (graduate)

815-753-1945 (fax)

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