The Groundwater Project

New Preserved Book Available! Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers

The Groundwater Project is pleased to announce that you can now download Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers written by Ghislain de Marsily. This is an important addition to our GW-Project Preserved Books series which highlights previously published books which have lasting educational importance. 

Ghislain de Marsily is an internationally renowned scientist and is well known as the pioneer of the pilot point method. He was instrumental in the development of stochastic hydrogeology. During his extensive career, de Marsily also explored other research areas, such as the inverse problem, geostatistics, fluid transport, underground flows, waste disposal (including nuclear waste) with regards to underground flows, river ecology, and in his later years, worldwide food production.


Ghislain de Marsily was born in 1939 in France. He started his career at a civil engineering company after finishing his engineering studies at the Paris School of Mines. But after a few years of working in the field, de Marsily decided to go back to school to follow a program in applied geology at the Paris School of Mines. During this program, de Marsily became fascinated with hydrogeology.

So when a research centre was established at the Paris School of Mines that would study hydrogeology, de Marsily was asked to join. He not only joined this new initiative but became the director of this centre, which was known as the Centre d’informatique géologique (1973-1985).

Initially focusing on groundwater, de Marsily developed quantitative methods to estimate and model underground flows. He primarily studied water resources, water contamination due to human activities, and geological processes related to underground flows. He also expressed concern about the storage of industrial waste in connection with underground flows.

In 1987, de Marsily became a professor of geology at Pierre and Marie Curie University (also known as Paris VI and now part of the Sorbonne University) and stayed on until 2004.

While working as a professor, he founded the UMR CNRS SISYPHE, a multidisciplinary research unit, of which he was the director until 2000. He established and directed the CNRS program PIREN-Seine, which studied the hydrological behaviour of the entire Seine River basin, addressing both quantitative and qualitative aspects. This program brought together multiple interdisciplinary laboratories in the Paris region and de Marsily called it a good example of what environmental research on a large scale should look like.

In 2000, he founded the Postgraduate School Géosciences et Ressources Naturelles at Pierre and Marie Curie University and stayed on as its director until 2004.

He later became professor emeritus at Pierre and Marie Curie University and at the Paris School of Mines.

He also joined the French Academy of Sciences as a member in 2003 and his work there focused on the effects of climate change on water resources and the global food production problem in the 21st century.

During his career, de Marsily authored many research papers, wrote multiple books, and presented at various international conferences. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to hydrogeology, he received many national and international awards. These include the O.E. Meinzer Award of the Geological Society of America, Robert E. Horton Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and President’s Award of the International Association of Hydrogeologists.


Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers

Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers (1986) is Ghislain de Marsily’s first book and was originally published in French in 1981 (Hydrogéologie quantitative). It is an extraordinary book that highlights two aspects which are woven into de Marsily’s entire scientific career: international collaboration and teaching.

International Collaboration

In an interview from 2011 for the project The Hydrogeologist Time Capsule (“The birth of stochastic hydrogeology), de Marsily gave his younger colleagues the advice to work internationally and to visit other scientists in their labs and establish personal connections.

He shared this advice in the section where he talked about the 1970s and his own travels to the United States to meet with other hydrogeologists of the time. He travelled all over the US and visited different scientists in their lab. He highlighted that these lab visits were important. He thought they were the best way to establish personal and long-term relationships with other scientists instead of only meeting them at seminars or conferences.

This international mindset resulted in the English version of Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers. Because it was one of his colleagues whom he met during his travels to North America, Dr. Richard E. Jackson, who, after reading the original, convinced him to translate into English the French lecture notes he made for his students in engineering at the Paris School of Mines.

De Marsily took his colleague’s advice and extended and translated the original French lecture notes during a sabbatical in 1979 at the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona in Tucson.


With lecture notes being the foundation of the book, Quantitative Hydrogeology: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers has been invaluable to teaching students about geostatistics and quantitative hydrogeology in a clear and condensed way.

In that same interview with de Marsily for the project The Hydrogeologist Time Capsule (The birth of stochastic hydrogeology), one of his former students, Philippe Renard, mentioned how he had completed a full semester on geostatistics and felt that he only knew a part of it. But then he went to de Marsily’s class and in two hours, they had gone through the whole book. He praised de Marsily for how extremely valuable the book was to him and other students.

De Marsily taught for most of his career and was famous with his students for his remarkable classes. He enjoyed working with students, especially international students, and according to his own estimate (The Hydrogeologist Time Capsule: “From quantitative hydrogeology to the future of our civilization”), he mentored over ninety PhD students over the course of his career.

When asked in a different interview for The Hydrogeologist Time Capsule (“From Cauchy’s method to PEST, an overview of the history of inverse problems”) if he had any advice for future teachers, de Marsily shared the following: “I liked my job of teaching hydrogeology in universities. I think it’s part of our responsibility as teachers to tell the students why it is important that we should go that way and not another way. As teachers, I think by definition, we should be aware of the latest developments and the latest techniques and of the pros and cons of each of these techniques. And not just do what is easy. That is to say, to teach the same course this year that you taught last year. It is the responsibility of the teaching community to be aware of the changes and teach that to the students.”