Research Groundwater and Water Resources (GWR) research group, Dept of Earth & Climate Sciences

Groundwater and Water Resources (GWR) Research Group

Our "Hydro group" uses modeling-, field-, and laboratory-based approaches to understand:

→ Groundwater and suface water resource availability, sustainability, and vulnerability assessment; and related environmental engineering applications, especially within the context of urban and agricultural water management.

→ Vadose zone (unsaturated zone) and soil-water processes, including quantifying & mapping recharge quantity and quality and preferential flow;

→ Aqueous geochemistry;

→ Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus;

→ Managed aquifer recharge;

→ Low Impact Development (LID) effects on recharge quantity and quality;

→ Hydroclimatology and climate change / variability effects on water resources;

→ Contaminant hydrogeology and nonpoint-source contamination at watershed to regional scales, including groundwater-vulnerability assessments to nitrate;

→ Saltwater intrusion and submarine groundwater discharge as related to the management of coastal aquifers systems;

→ Interdependencies between climatic-hydrologic-land use and subsurface processes;

→ Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling and uncertainty analysis.


Interested In Joining Our Group?

Our Hydro group is growing. We are looking for new M.S. graduate students interested in research that compliments and expands our current research in hydrogeology, vadose zone hydrology, contaminant hydrology, and climate change effects on water resources.


Please note that SFSU is a non-PhD degree granting institution. Our terminal graduate degree is a MS in Geosciences. Many of our recent MS alumi have gone on to prestigious PhD programs, for example at UC Berkeley, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering; CU Boulder, Dept of Geological Sciences; University of Montana, Geosciences Dept., and UC Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies. Other alumni are working for environmental consulting companies and state and federal government agencies. See more about Alumni here.


We also host summer internship students, from the U.S. and abroad.


Please contact Jason Gurdak for more information or see the Department of Earth & Climate Sciences website or the Graduate Studies web site for program details and admissions requirements.


Current (2018) Research Projects


1. Transforming low impact development and stormwater capture toward sustainable urban agriculture; USDA Water Resources Internship, USDA NIFA Award No. 2015-38422-24058, Award Title: Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers, Lead Agency: Cal State San Bernardino University, 2017-2018.


2. Developing practical water-energy-food nexus guidelines for sustainable groundwater management, Pajaro Valley, California; USDA Water Resources Internship, USDA NIFA Award No. 2015-38422-24058, Award Title: Water Resources Experiential Learning for USDA Careers, Lead Agency: Cal State San Bernardino University, funded by CSU Water Resources & Policy Initiatives (WRPI), 2017-2018.


3. Estimating Recharge toward Sustainable Groundwater and Agriculture, Central Platte NRD, Nebraska Natural Resources Commission – Water Sustainability Fund,Central Platte Natural Resource District, 2016-2018.


4. Human-Environmental Security in Asia-Pacific Ring of Fire: Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Taniguchi, M. (PI, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan) (Gurdak is Leading the U.S. research group, which 1 of 7 across the Asia-Pacific region), Japanese Ministry of Education, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Kyoto, Japan. project period: 2013-2018. Link to project website.


5. Groundwater sustainability on atolls of the Pacific Ocean, U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Science Center, 2016-2018.


6. Assessment of real evapotranspiration and recharge processes on two karst pilot groundwater catchments (Lebanon) using an integrated spatially distributed numerical model: Applications for water resources management purposes, Doummar, J. (PI, American University of Beirut), and Gurdak, J.J. (U.S. Collaborator), USAID & NSF Partnership for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science, (2014-2018). Link to project website:


7. In 2011, the new G@GPS initiative (Groundwater@Global Paleoclimate Signals) was launched to help the international paleogroundwater research community in coordinating activities that advance investigations of the links between paleoclimate archives and paleogroundwater observations. G@GPS is an inclusive group of scientists that coordinates paleogroundwater research, organizes workshops and training courses, and helps future and early-career researchers develop necessary skills. If you are interested in participating in G@GPS, please contact me or one of the other coordinators (see the invitation letter here: PDF). Learn more about G@GPS here.


8. Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change (GRAPHIC) (2005 - present). Gurdak is Co-Coordinator GRAPHIC along with Marc la Blanc. Visit the GRAPHIC website here.



Past Research Projects

RUI: Groundwater teleconnections with interannual to multidecadal climate variability, Gurdak, J.J. (PI), Ferre, P.A. (Ty) (Co-I), and Maurer, E.P., (Co-I), National Science Foundation (NSF), EAR - Hydrologic Sciences (HS) Program, (2013-2017).


Assessment of groundwater indicators for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) aquifer systems, Allen, D.M. (PI, Simon Fraser University), Taniguchi, M. (Research Institution for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan), and Gurdak, J.J. (Collaborators), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNESCO Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP). Overview of project here.


Paleohydrological Change and Fluvial Archives, Paleogroundwater Group, INQUA Commission on Terrestrial Processes, Deposits, and History (TERPRO), 2012-2015, International Focus Group: G@GPS Groundwater and Global Palaeoclimate Signals. See TERPRO page for overview of G@GPS.


2007 - Present: Climate change and land-use effects on groundwater recharge, Central Platte Basin, High Plains aquifer. See final report here.


Groundwater vulnerability of U.S. principle aquifers to nonpoint-source nitrate contamination (2012)


Present: Climate change effects on groundwater resources, San Francisco, CA. SFSU ORSP FOA 2010-11, Facilitating Research at SFSU (2010).


Climate variability effects on groundwater sustainability


High Plains Regional Ground Water Study (2000-2009)


Quantifying error propagation and prediction uncertainty for GIS raster processing (2007-2009)


Recharge beneath playas of the High Plains (2008-2009)


Groundwater Vulnerability of the High Plains aquifer (2005-2006)



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