Environmental Forensics 2
PHA 6935 Environmental Forensics 2


This is a 3-credit course.


This course will advance the knowledge gained in Environmental Forensics I with case studies drawn from actual contamination events. There are four case studies or modules which have been prepared with assistance from practitioners in the field of environmental forensic science. They are enquiry-based learning modules which will require students to interpret data and synthesise information from a number of sources, drawing upon subject matter from different disciplines. The learning outcomes for this course are therefore of a higher order than those for Environmental Forensics I.

NOTE: Some of the concepts in this course will be illustrated through the use of spreadsheets. You will need to have a copy of the spreadsheet program Microsoft Excel (2003 or later) on your computer to open these spreadsheets. You will be directed how to download these files. Some of the spreadsheets run sub-programs called “Macros”. When you open these files, you may see a message warning you that the program contains Macros. You will be asked to either Disable Macros or Enable Macros. Make sure you choose Enable Macros.


Environmental Forensics I


Module topic
Case study 1 Design of a uranium mine environmental monitoring program
Case study 2 Assessment of a maritime oil spill event
Case study 3 Use of spreadsheet-based plume modelling software to model groundwater contamination
Case study 4 Assessment of the processes acting on the distribution and concentration of a dissolved phase hydrocarbon plume

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Synthesise data from environmental monitoring programs
  • Understand the importance of background controls for environmental monitoring
  • Identify issues of sample integrity that are especially relevant for environmental forensics
  • Describe the process of groundwater modelling
  • Recommend analytical methods for the analysis of various contaminants in groundwater
  • Interpret core sampling data to evaluate contaminant plume behaviour in groundwater and determine a source for the contamination
  • Assess the level of attenuation or retardation of groundwater contamination plumes
  • Use BTEX data to infer the extent to which bioremediation has arrested the advance of a contaminant plume
  • Apply a simple, spreadsheet-based groundwater modelling tool to model groundwater contamination
  • Understand the process of oil spill identification
  • Identify weathering of oil spill samples
  • Make recommendations based on understanding and analysis of technical reports
  • Design an environmental monitoring program

Recommended Materials

The following text is recommended but not compulsory. You will be able to complete the course without it, but it is a good companion.

Introduction to Environmental Forensics (Third Edition, 2015)
Edited by: Brian L. Murphy and Robert D. Morrison
ISBN: 978-0-12-404696-2

Library Access

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