Hydrogeologist

Mining is a key contributor to the national economy, GDP and employment in South Africa. Mining activities however, impact significantly on land use change, and particularly impact the quality and quantity of groundwater. Hydrogeology examines the distribution and movement of groundwater in the soil and rocks of the earth’s crust, to better understand potential impact and access of these water sources.

Hydrogeologists investigate the occurrence and exploration opportunities and challenges of groundwater according to geographical formations, surface water flow and man-made influences. They study and collect data on the flow and quality of groundwater systems and model future behaviour and impacts on aquifer systems. They can also advise on the decision-making processes for aquifer subdivisions, rivers and irrigation strategies ensuring compliance with environmental legislation.

Hydrogeologists can liaise with environmental engineers, ecologists and other professionals in investigating groundwater systems. They typically work between on-site locations, assessing water systems and geological structures of interest, and a laboratory and office environment.

Skills

Hydrogeologists need to have an extensive knowledge of geological characteristics and groundwater principles and can further benefit from an understanding of water policies and regulations, and:

  • Excellent research capabilities 
  • Analytical with excellent critical thinking skills
  • Strong problem-solving ability
  • Good verbal and written communication and presentation skills

Tasks

Assess sites and perform and analyse groundwater sampling

Create, test and interpret prediction models and maps

Undertake environmental impact assessments and create remediation project plans

Advise and support compliance with regulations, laws and standards

Studies

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Geology specialising in Hydrogeology at UFS, UP and Wits

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Hydrology at NWU, UKZN, Univen and Unizulu

Employers

National, provincial and local government. 

Research institutions.

Mining and construction companies.

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