16-Apr-2014: posters by Jettie Koen and Ryan Soutter (and congratulations Jettie)

Undergraduate research students Jettie Koen and Ryan Soutter presented posters on their senior projects for the interdisciplinary Environmental Science major.

Jettie has been working on GIS-based calculations of land-use specific evapotranspiration (ET) in the City of Austin and how the total ET, its spatial distribution, and its fractional contributions from different land use classes have changed as Austin has developed rapidly from 1990-2010. Jettie received an Honorable Mention for her poster and presentation. Congratulations Jettie!

Ryan has been working with Todd Caldwell (UT BEG) to evaluate in the lab the thermal and hydraulic properties of some candidate green roof substrate materials, seeking to identify the mix of lithic fragments (brick, in his case) and organic matter that provides maximum thermal insulation and maximum (but not excessive) plant-available water retention.

11-Apr-2014: presentation by Allan Jones and classmates

Allan Jones and classmates from Fall 2013 Hydrogeophysics (Prof. Jack Sharp) presented the results of their class project to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife.

15-Apr-2014: poster by Kathleen Stanford

Undergraduate research student Kathleen Stanford, of the UT Bridging Disciplines program, presented her poster on the hydrologic ecosystem services of Austin rain gardens and retention ponds. The poster covers a small fraction of the work she has been doing in the field with Audrey Eljuri, data analysis and soil moisture modeling she has been working on alone, and related subject areas she has explored as an intern on water quality/management with the City of Austin.

7-Apr-2014: introducing Allan Jones – PhD candidate!

Allan Jones passed his PhD qualification exams today, doing a great job fielding questions from committee members Bayani Cardenas, Ben Hodges, Jim McClelland, Ian Dalziel, and adivsor Kevan Moffett. He is now an official PhD candidate. Congratulations Allan!

7-Apr-2014: seminar by Brittany Smith

Brittany Smith presented her MS thesis research in the “Soft Rock” seminar series today (roughly, sedimentary geology, geomorphology, and related subjects). Brittany’s thesis is entitled “The effects of vegetation on island geomorphology in the Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana” and covers both extensive sedimentary core analysis as well as a novel and useful remote sensing image analysis method she developed to better understand island geomorphological change over time in a data-limited (but not imagery-limited) environment. The audience clearly found the work facinating, judging from the nearly 30 minutes of excited questions Brittany fielded!

25-Jan-2014: poster award to Audrey Eljuri

Audrey Eljuri was awarded 1st place for the best undergraduate poster presentation at the 3rd Annual Jackson School of Geosciences Research Symposium, held today on the UT-Austin campus. Her poster, based on her Honors Thesis work-in-progress, was entitled “The efficiency of storm water management structures, rain gardens and vegetated retention ponds, in reducing urban runoff and contaminants in downtown Austin, Texas”. Congratulations Audrey!

13-Jan-2014: Classes start!

Today begins Kevan’s third teaching semester at UT and second round teaching “Introduction to Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology,” an advanced undergraduate course for geology and environmental science majors, also open to other interested students. She is greatly looking forward to improving upon what was already a highly successful class last year!

16-Dec-2013: AGU success!

The entire research group (and then some) traveled to the annual American Geophysical Union fall meeting last week, the largest international earth science conference.  The 7 presentations (talks and posters) in which the group participated were proudly represented among more than 22,000 attendees of sessions on topics ranging from Mars exploration to climate change to water resources to the deep Earth.  Welcome back, travelers!

5-Dec-2013: proposal submitted

Kevan submitted a proposal today to the NSF Hydrologic Sciences program with collaborators Ben Hodges, Jim McClelland, and Amber Hardison. Phew! Now we wait…

5-Dec-2013: teaching

Today was the last day of Kevan’s fall class: Ecohydrology (GEO 371/391). It was a great semester thanks to a great class and a great TA (Kim Myers)!  The course culminated in a class report on the Evapotranspiration of the City of Austin, including daily average and monthly estimates of the vast quantities of water that cycle through the city via evapotranspiration in four major categories of land cover: grassy lawns, undeveloped lands, riparian zones and street trees, and other (impervious surfaces, open water, and urban farms).

22-Nov-2013: welcome Abigail Black

BS Geology Abigail Black will join the research group this spring for a semester of independent study research – topic TBD. Welcome Abigail!

11-Nov-2013: outreach

Mike O’Connor joined fellow JSG students to demonstrate the principles of groundwater flow to local school children using an “ant-farm” physical aquifer model, among other props.

1-Nov-2013: welcome Jettie Koen

BS Environmental Science student Jettie Koen will join the research group this spring to complete a senior research project.  Jettie will build on the Ecohydrology (GEO 371/391) class project that is estimating evapotranspiration for different land covers in the City of Austin. For her project, Jettie will further improve upon those estimates and conduct a GIS-based analysis of changes in the trends of evapotranspiration over time as Austin has rapidly developed from 1980-2010, using land use maps available from the City. Welcome Jettie!

1-Nov-2013: welcome Ryan Soutter

BS Environmental Science student Ryan Soutter will join the research group this spring to complete a senior research project in collaboration with colleague Todd Caldwell (UT-Austin BEG).  Ryan will work in Todd’s laboratory to test the hydraulic and thermal properties of different materials proposed as green roof substrates, part of a larger project Todd is working on regarding the design of grassy green roofs for the City of Austin. Welcome Ryan!

28-Oct-2013: grant awarded to Kevan Moffett

Kevan‘s proposal to the American Chemical Society – Petroleum Research Fund – Doctoral New Investigator program was awarded. The grant will support the research of Kevan and a graduate student for two years on the spatial and temporal patterns of organic carbon generation and preservation in fluvio-deltaic systems as they change morphology over time, specifically targeting the 40-year subaerial history of the Wax Lake Delta of coastal Louisiana.

15-Oct-2013: grant awarded to Audrey Eljuri

Audrey Eljuri‘s proposal to the UT Undergraduate Research Fellowship program was awarded $1000 (the maximum) to help support her Honors research on Austin stormwater management by rain gardens and retention ponds.  Audrey will also receive a matching award from the Jackson School of Geosciences, for a total of $2000. Congratulations Audrey!

26-Sep-2013: weather station a-hoy!

Kevan’s Ecohydrology class installed a weather station on the Jackson Geology Building roof today.  Every 5 minutes the weather station will record: rainfall, solar radiation (2 sensors: 400-700 nm and 300-1100 nm wavelengths), air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, and leaf wetness (of a silicon chip that simulates a green leaf).  After taking into account that the bare roof is a non-ideal reference surface (although far more secure) compared to a ground-level grassy lawn and comparing with other local data, Audrey Eljuri will use this weather data in her assessment of meteorological influences on Austin rain gardens and retention ponds. The Ecohydrology class will use the data in their final class project regarding the Ecohydrology of the City of Austin. The station will be maintained for some time hereafter, with data available upon request.

17-Sep-2013: welcome Kathleen Stanford

BS Civil Engineering and Bridging Disciplines Program student Kathleen Stanford will be joining the research group this spring.  Kathleen will continue our study of stormwater infiltration in Austin rain gardens and retention ponds at the seasonal scale, after Audrey finishes analysis of event-scale responses and graduates this spring. Welcome Kathleen!

16-Sep-2013: student proposal submitted

Audrey Eljuri submitted a proposal today to the UT Undergraduate Research Fellowship program for funds to help support her Honors research on Austin stormwater management by rain gardens and retention ponds.

1-Sep-2013: Happy New Year

Welcome to Year 2 of the Moffett lab at UT Austin. To better reflect what we actually do, we have changed our name to: Moffett Research Group on Hydrologic Dynamics and Ecohydrology.

28-Aug-2013: Classes start!

Tomorrow begins Kevan’s second teaching semester at UT. This semester she is designing and teaching a new course: “Ecohydrology” a moderate-level course for hydrology graduate students, also open to advanced undergraduate environmental science and geology students with hydrology and ecology background. She is greatly looking forward to making the course very hands-on, with help from TA Kim Meyers designing “mini-labs”, and an exciting final project TBA.

7-Aug-2013: abstracts away!

The whole group (and then some!) is going to AGU!  Collectively, the group and our collaborators submitted 7 abstracts to the annual American Geophysical Union conference, in San Francisco, in December.  The abstract authors, titles, sessions, and times are:

  • AE Jones and KB Moffett.  Salinity structure of a tidal freshwater ecosystem under multiple tidal conditions, Mission River, TX, USA. Th 12-Dec 8:00-12:30.
  • B Smith, KB Moffett, and D Mohrig.  Correlations between vegetation and island geomorphology in the Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana. W 11-Dec 8:00-12:20.
  • MT O’Connor and KB Moffett.  Controls on groundwater dynamics and root zone aeration of a coastal fluvial delta island, Wax Lake, Louisiana. W 11-Dec 13:40-18:00.
  • A Eljuri and KB Moffett.  Quantity and quality of runoff reduction and recharge enhancement from constructed rain gardens and vegetated retention ponds in Austin, Texas. W 11-Dec 13:40-18:00.
  • RW Wagner, KB Moffett, and D Mohrig.  Testing the bistable topographic state hypothesis on a rapidly prograding coastal fluvial delta.  M 9-Dec 13:40-18:00.
  • H Zhang, KB Moffett, L Windham-Myers, and SM Gorelick.  Hydrological controls on methylmercury flux from an intertidal salt marsh. Oral presenatation. Th 12-Dec 8:30-8:45.
  • KB Moffett and SM Gorelick.  The tidal slug test: estimating intertidal sediment hydraulic conductivity twice-per-tide from passive monitoring of shallow piezometers.  M 9-Dec 13:40-18:00.

We are all looking forward to to sharing our exciting new and ongoing research with our national and international colleagues.

Kevan is also co-chairing a session: Hxxx. Hydrologic Controls on Biogeochemical and Ecosystem Processes at the Land-Sea Interface. We have 37 fantastic oral and poster presentations in our line-up.  Session times are:

Oral Session 1, W 11-Dec 13:40-15:40, Moscone West 3018

Oral Session 2, W 11-Dec 16:00-18:00, Moscone West 3018

Poster Session, Th 12-Dec 8:00-12:20, Moscone South Halls A-C


16-Jul-2013: proposal submitted

Kevan submitted a proposal today to the NSF Geomorphology and Land Use Dynamics program with collaborators Amber Hardison and Wonsuck Kim. Phew! Now we wait…

1-Jul-2013: outreach

Mike O’Connor and Dylan Meyer presented to a group of 7-10 year olds at the Austin Children’s Museum about stream flow and water quality, including an excursion to Shoal Creek to demonstrate stream velocity (using the orange-peel method) and water chemistry testing.  Mike and Dylan will be repeating the successful endeavor on August 12, 2013.

6-Jun-2013: welcome Stacy Slater

BS Biology student Stacy Slater has joined the group as a research assistant to Kevan. Kevan, Stacy, and collaborators in Biology (Christine Hawkes’s lab) will begin a pilot project this summer to test the use of microCT for non-destructively imaging root-water relations. Welcome Stacy!

5-Jun-2013: summer camp


Congratulations all!  The research group survived three weeks of intensive Hydrogeology Field Camp (GEO f376L/f382C).  Allan, Brittany, Mike, and Audrey all participated. Kevan was a co-instructor with Phil Bennett.  All learned a huge amount and enjoyed the diverse field settings (campus, the UT BEG Exploration Geophysics test site near Devine, and the Gorman Spring/Falls/Cave area of Colorado Bend State Park).

3-Jun-2013: proposal submitted

Kevan submitted a proposal today to the Texas Sea Grant College Program with collaborator Jim McClelland. Phew! Now we wait…

May-2013: publication spot

Kevan’s model of salt marsh ecohydrological zonation is featured on page 245 of the new book:
Blöschl, G., M. Sivapalan, T. Wagener, A. Viglione, and H. Savenije (Eds.) (2013), Runoff Prediction in Ungauged Basins: Synthesis across Processes, Places and Scales, Cambridge University Press [link].
(Model paper citation: KB Moffett, SM Gorelick, RG McLaren, and EA Sudicky (2012) Salt marsh ecohydrological zonation due to heterogeneous vegetation – groundwater – surface water interactions, Water Resources Research, 48, W02516. doi:10.1029/2011WR010874. [link])

2-May-2013: teaching

Today was the last day of Kevan’s spring class: Introduction to Hydrogeology (GEO 346C). It was a great semester thanks to a great class and two great TAs (Allan Jones and Michael Kanarek)!

29-Apr-2013: poster award to Allan Jones

Allan Jones was awarded 2nd place for the best student poster presentation at the Texas Bays and Estuaries Meeting held last week at the UT Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. His poster, based on the first portion of his PhD research, was entitled “Modeling Controls on the Hydrodynamics of Tidal Freshwater Ecosystems to Prepare for Coastal Climate Change”. Congratulations Allan!

26-Apr-2013: media consultation

Kevan Moffett was consulted by a journalist for National Geographic about the science behind an annual festival in Korea. The “Jindo Sea-Parting Festival” celebrates the magical exposure of a hidden path between Jindo and Modo islands. As best as Kevan could determine at short notice, the phenomenon arises from two factors: 1) the particular tidal harmonics occurring at the location and the coastal geometry of the funnel-shaped Myongrang Strait create exceptionally low tides twice a year; 2) the particular tides and currents of the area are likely configured such that they produce a relatively stable quiescent hydrodynamic front between the islands and so allow deposition and long-term persistence of a (usually) subtidal bar of sediments (like a tombolo, but subtidal and likely due to larger currents rather than wave refraction).  The regular exposure of this bar by extreme low tides only a few times a year has given rise to both a festival and a legend. Read more at:

22-Apr-2013: project completion

The 2013 International Space Apps Challenge has come and gone.  Suzanne Pierce and Kevan Moffett submitted a challenge to map the surface water resources (mainly playa lakes, a.k.a. salars) in the Chilean Andes through time from remote sensing data and to link those maps to historical preciptiation records for the region.  Some participants from around the world submitted projects that at least partly answered this Challenge.  Read more at:

18-Apr-2013: award to Allan Jones

Allan Jones was recognized by the Department of Geological Sciences at its annual awards presentation as one of only four Outstanding TAs for 2012-2013, nominated by Kevan Moffett (with contributions from Richard Ketcham, Laurie Duncan, and students). Congratulations Allan!

14-Apr-2013: award to Allan Jones

Allan Jones was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society today. Congratulations Allan!

13-Apr-2013: award to Audrey Eljuri

Audrey Eljuri was honored as a Jackson School of Geosciences 2013 College Scholar on the basis of her academic achievement during her undergraduate study thus far. Audery was recognized at a luncheon with her family and research advisor, Kevan Moffett, and in the university-wide honors program that afternoon. Congratulations Audrey!

1-Apr-2013: proposal submitted

Kevan is one of many co-Is on a proposal submitted today by Robert Dickinson to NASA. Phew! Now we wait…

29-Mar-2013: new research

Audrey Eljuri‘s research will be on effects of rain gardens on runoff and recharge – specifically the City of Austin’s goal of having 1000 rain gardens around the city in the next few years ( She will focus especially on how different hydrological benefits might result from: a) rain gardens within and not within the recharge zone for the hugely important Edwards Aquifer and b) different numbers and spatial distributions of rain gardens throughout Austin.  Sounds exciting, Audrey!

15-Mar-2013: proposal submitted

Kevan submitted a proposal today to the ACS-PRF program. Phew! Now we wait…

14-Jan-2013: Classes start!

Tomorrow begins Kevan’s first teaching semester at UT. She will teach “Introduction to Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology,” an advanced undergraduate course for geology and environmental science majors, also open to other interested students. She will build on previous experience teaching undergraduates in a small writing seminar, but this will be her first big “lecture” class – still, she will try to design the course with plenty of fun activities and exercises.

02-Dec-2012: conference travel

This week Kevan will present a talk at the annual American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA. The talk is entitled “Hydrogeochemical zonation in intertidal salt marsh sediments: evidence of positive plant-soil feedback?”

23-Nov-2012: welcome Audrey Eljuri

BS Honors student Audrey Eljuri has joined the research group. Welcome Audrey! Research project TBD…

25-Oct-2012: new research

Brittany Smith‘s research will be on vegetation-sediment interactions in fluivial deltas – specifically at the Wax Lake Delta in Louisiana.  She will focus especially on the linked historical evolution of island extent and elevation, presence/absence of vegetation, and role of organic matter deposition in island growth.  We will be collaborating with David Mohrig (UT-DGS) on this work.  Sounds exciting, Brittany!

30-Sep-2012: conference travel

This week Kevan will present an invited talk at the EcoSummit conference in Columbus, Ohio. The talk is entitled “Wetland vegetation and soil chemistry zonation: cause and effect, or two sides of the same coin?”

10-Oct-2012: welcome Mike O’Connor and new research

MS aspirant Michael O’Connor has joined the research group.  Mike’s research will be on the water and nitrogen balances of fluvial delta islands – specifically at the Wax Lake Delta in Louisiana. He will focus especially on subsurface processes in the island sediments and groundwater.  We will be collaborating with Amber Hardison (UT-MSI) on this work.  Welcome Mike!

28-Sep-2012: new research

Allan Jones‘s research will be on defining the nature and dynamics of the likely very prevalent but little-appreciated riverine tidal freshwater ecosystems (TFEs) – specifically in the Mission and Aransas Rivers in southern Texas.  He will focus especially on the hydrodynamic controls on the volume and residence time of water in TFEs, their interaction with nearby groundwater, and their influence on river discharge to the receiving estuary (Copano Bay and the Mission-Aranas National Estuarine Research Reserve).  We will be collaborating with Jim McClelland (UT-MSI) on this work.  Sounds exciting, Allan!

30-Aug-2012: welcome Allan Jones and Brittany Smith

MS aspirant Brittany Smith and PhD aspirant Allan Jones have arrived, officially launching the Moffett research group.  Welcome Brittany and Allan!  Research projects TBD…

20-Aug-2012: Happy New Year!

Kevan Moffett has arrived on campus. Glad to be here! Here starts Year 1 of the Moffett research group.