Practice exam questions written by Timothy H. Heaton,
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of South Dakota

Click the circle by an answer with the mouse, then click on the Submit button to get a response. You will be told if your answer is correct or not and will be given some comments.

  1. In which part of the groundwater system are the pore spaces not filled with water?
    Capillary fringe
    Hydraulic gradient
    Water table
    Zone of aeration
    Zone of saturation

  2. To what level will a well fill when drilled into the ground?
    Capillary fringe
    Hydraulic gradient
    Water table
    Zone of aeration
    Zone of saturation

  3. What keeps the capillary fringe saturated?
    Adhesion of water molecules
    Soil moisture
    Tidal forces

  4. What value is determined by Darcy's law?
    Groundwater velocity
    Rock permeability
    Rock porosity
    Water table position
    Water table slope

  5. Match each term with its definition.
    Term Definition
    Ability to transmit fluid
    Entry of water into groundwater system
    Exit of water from groundwater system
    Fluid holding capacity
    Streams that gain water from the ground
    Streams that loose water to the ground

  6. Match each rock type with its groundwater characteristics.
    Rock type Characteristics
    Dissolves in weak acid
    Has high porosity, high permeability
    Has high porosity, low permeability
    Has low porosity, low permeability

  7. What is an aquifer?
    A geyser
    A high discharge spring
    A permeable rock type
    A reservoir of ground water
    An impermeable rock type

  8. What holds up a perched water table?
    A sinkhole
    An aquiclude
    An aquifer
    The capillary fringe
    The cone of depression

  9. What is an artesian well?
    A free-flowing well
    A geyser
    A spring
    A very deep well
    Any well where water rises above the aquifer itself

  10. What can form when the pressure surface is above the ground?
    A dried up well
    A flowing artesian well
    A non-flowing artesian well
    Downdraw of the water table
    Influent streams

  11. Which problem is not caused by groundwater withdrawal?
    Chemical contamination
    Drying up of springs
    Drying up of wells
    Salt-water incursion

  12. What is formed when water is removed from a well?
    Cone of depression
    Cone of discharge
    Zone of aeration
    Zone of saturation

  13. What rock type do caves nearly always form in?

  14. Which speleothems stand up from the cave floor?
    Soda straws

  15. What is terrain full of sinkholes and disappearing streams called?
    Dendritic drainage
    Inverted valleys
    Karst topography
    Patterned ground

  16. What causes calcite to be deposited as dripstone or travertine?
    Acid derived from rotting organic matter in soils
    Evaporation and resulting concentration of calcium ions
    Heating of water underground
    Loss of carbon dioxide in saturated groundwater
    Loss of sulfur dioxide in saturated groundwater

  17. What causes water to eject from a geyser?
    A pressure surface high above the ground
    A perched water table
    Dissolved gasses
    Dissolved ions
    Superheated water turning to steam

Please report any problems or errors to Dr. Heaton.