National Research Program (NRP)

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Welcome to the National Research Program

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The USGS National Research Program (NRP), part of the USGS Water Mission Area, conducts research to develop and disseminate science-based information and tools needed for a fundamental understanding of the processes that affect the availability, movement, and quality of the Nation’s water resources. Our science supports a wide range of policies and activities, including:

Science Topics:

  • Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Systems

    Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Systems: Bill Evans demonstrates proper use of a ring stand and graduated cylinder to collect gas from an Alaskan mud volcano. This feature was dormant for decades before "erupting" carbon dioxide gas in the late 1990s.

  • Stable Isotope Fractionation in Hydrologic Processes

    Stable Isotope Fractionation in Hydrologic Processes : T. B. Coplen prepares gas samples on a glass high vacuum line in the Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory. In this laboratory, samples are analyzed for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur isotopic composition for biological, hydrological, environmental, and forensic science applications.

  • Aqueous Crystal Growth and Dissolution Kinetics

    Aqueous Crystal Growth and Dissolution Kinetics: Mike Reddy uses techniques of low-temperature geochemistry to interpret and characterize chemical processes occurring in surface water and ground water. In this image, Hot Springs at the Needles Area of Pyramid Lake, NV shows active calcium carbonate precipitation.

  • Environmental Tracers of Surface-Water/Ground-Water Exchanges

    Environmental Tracers of Surface-Water/Ground-Water Exchanges: James Constantz is the leading authority on the use of heat as a tracer to understand and quantify surface-water exchanges with groundwater, as well as a leading authority regarding the influence of temperature on hydrologic processes, including infiltration, evaporation and drainage.

  • Biogeochemical Controls on Contaminant Degradation in Heterogeneous Near Surface Environments

    Biogeochemical Controls on Contaminant Degradation in Heterogeneous Near Surface Environments: Isabelle Cozzarelli's research is to investigate the impact of organic contaminants in aquifers and wetlands, requiring her and her colleagues to use field-based experimental approaches to look at reactions below land surface.

Recent NRP Publications

Webb, R.M.T., and Parkhurst, D.L., 2017, Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD), user’s manual, version 1: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. B35, 171 p.

Ebel, B.A., and Moody, J.A., 2017, Synthesis of soil-hydraulic properties and infiltration timescales in wildfire-affected soils: Hydrological Processes, v. 31, p. 324–340, doi: 10.1002/hyp.10998

Zlotnik, V.A., Ward, A., Harvey, J.W., Lautz, L.K., Rosenberry, D.O., and Brunner, P., 2017, Ch. 9. Groundwater-surface water interactions, in Cushman, J. and Tartakovsky, D., eds., The Handbook of Groundwater Engineering, Third Edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, p. 237-288.

Cozzarelli, I.M., Skalak, K.J., Kent, D.B., Engle, M.A., Benthem, A., Mumford, A.C., Haase, K., Farag, A., Harper, D., Nagel, S.C., Iwanowicz, L.R., Orem, W.H., Akob, D.M., Jaeschke, J.B., Galloway, J., Kohler, M., Stoliker, D.L., Jolly, G.D., 2017, Environmental signatures and effects of an oil and gas wastewater spill in the Williston Basin, North Dakota, Science of The Total Environment, v. 579, p. 1781-1793.

Böhlke, J.K., Mroczkowski, S.J., Sturchio, N.C., Heraty, L.J., Richman, K.W., Sullivan, D.B., Griffith, K.N., Gu, B., and Hatzinger, P.B., 2017, Stable isotope analyses of oxygen (18O:17O:16O) and chlorine (37Cl:35Cl) in perchlorate: Reference materials, calibrations, methods, and interferences. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 31, p. 85-110.

Smith, R.L., Kent, D.B., Repert, D.A., and Böhlke, J.K., 2017, Anoxic nitrate reduction coupled with iron oxidation and attenuation of dissolved arsenic and phosphate in a sand and gravel aquifer. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 196, p. 102–120.

Overstreet, B. T., and Legleiter, C. J. (2017) Removing sun glint from optical remote sensing images of shallow rivers. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms, 42: 318–333. doi: 10.1002/esp.4063.

Niswonger, R., Naranjo, R., Smith, D., Constantz, J., Allander, K., Rosenberry, D., Neilson, B., Rosen, M., Stonestrom, D., 2017, Nutrient processes at the stream-lake interface for a channelized versus unmodified stream mouth, Water Resour. Res., 53.

Boyd, E.S., Yu, R.Q., Barkay, T., Hamilton, T.L., Baxter, B.K., Naftz, D.L., and Marvin-DiPasquale, M., 2017, Effect of salinity on mercury methylating benthic microbes and their activities in Great Salt Lake, Utah: Sci Total Environ.

Tanner, K.C., Windham-Myers, L., Fleck, J.A., Tate, K.W., McCord, S.A., Linquist, B.A., 2017, The Contribution of Rice Agriculture to Methylmercury in Surface Waters: A Review of Data from the Sacramento Valley, California, Journal of Environmental Quality, 46, 133-142. http://dx.doi/org/10.2134/jeq2016.07.0262

Kharaka, Y. K., Thordsen, J. J., Abedini, A., Beers, S. Thomas, B., 2017, Changes in the chemistry of groundwater reacted with CO2: Comparison of laboratory results with the ZERT field pilot.  Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, v. 17, p. 241 – 244.

Ouyang, B., D. M. Akob, D. S. Dunlap, and D. Renock. 2017. Microbially mediated barite dissolution in anoxic brines. Applied Geochemistry, 76: 51-59.

Oremland, R. S. and Stolz, J. F., 2017, Metabolomic changes in response to toxic arsenite. Environ Microbiol.

Mao, X., Oremland, R.S., Liu, T., Gushgari, S., Landers, A.A., Baesman, S.M., Alvarez-Cohen, L., 2017, Acetylene fuels TCE reductive dechlorination by defined Dehalococcoides/Pelobacter consortia. Environmental Science and Technology.

Sutton JM, Baesman SM, Fierst JL, Poret-Peterson AT, Oremland RS, Dunlap DS, Akob DM. 2017. Complete genome sequence of the acetylene-fermenting Pelobacter sp. strain SFB93. Genome Announc 5:e01573-16.

[View All NRP Publications]

Topical Research Teams

The National Research Program's topical research teams consist of small groups of scientists that cross the boundaries of historic USGS sub-disciplines, Branches, and Mission Areas. They often include scientists from outside agencies as well. These teams are formed to address potentially important issues for which there currently is limited activity in the Water Mission Area. Outcomes from the topical teams could identify new research directions and result in the formation of new collaborations and partnerships.

Featured Science and Activities

James Cloern and Judson Harvey Selected as AGU Fellows

James Cloern and Judson Harvey of the USGS National Research Program have been selected selected into the 2016 class of AGU Fellows. This special honor acknowledges Fellows for their remarkable contributions to their research fields, exceptional knowledge, and visionary leadership. Only 0.1% of AGU membership receives this recognition in any given year. Read the announcement

Ron Oremland Selected as AGU Ocean Sciences and Biogeosciences William and Carelyn Reeburgh Lecturer

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. Ron Oremland.

Dr. Ron Oremland was selected as the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Ocean Sciences and Biogeosciences William and Carelyn Reeburgh lecturer for the Autumn 2016 Meeting. The AGU Ocean Sciences Honors and Awards Committee selected Ron based on his "outstanding leadership in microbial biogeochemistry". Ron is the first awardee of this new honor selected by Ocean Sciences. Read more about the lectureship

Mark Schmeeckle Selected as Borland Lecturer in Hydraulics

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. Mark Schmeeckle.

NRP scientist Dr. Mark Schmeeckle has been selected by the Organizing Committee of Hydrology Days and the Borland Committee as the Borland Lecturer in Hydraulics for 2016. Dr. Schmeeckle's award will be presented at Hydrology Days 2016 at Colorado State University. Read more...

Langston Hughes Students Visit USGS National Center Labs

Middle school students visit the USGS Reston Microbiology Lab and the USGS Groundwater Dating Lab.

NRP scientists, Dr. Denise Akob, Dr. Karl Haase, and Dr. Adam Mumford, hosted tours of the USGS Reston Microbiology Lab and the USGS Groundwater Dating Lab for 18 middle school students as part of the White House’s My Brother's Keeper "Day at the Lab/African American Heritage Month" national events on February 29, 2016. The tours were featured in the March 4, 2016 edition of "This Week at Interior" (view the video) and the Fairfax Times (read the article)

The Fate of Sediment When Freshwater Meets Saltwater

Tidal freshwater swamp along the Pocomoke River in Maryland.

Two recent USGS investigations, have measured sedimentation rates along the barely perceptible slope of rivers as they empty into estuaries. The findings of these studies have important implications for the restoration of estuaries - for example, the Chesapeake Bay - and their resilience in the face of sea level rise. Read the press release

Marjorie Schulz: Soil Mottling Not in Wetlands Only

View of mottled pattern characteristic of rhizospheric processes.

USGS scientists led by Marjorie Schulz have shown that rhizospheric processes, acting over tens of thousands of years under upland prairie coastal terraces, orchestrate the redistribution of elements into distinct mottled patterns, with implications for pedogenesis, weathering of plant-essential nutrients, and carbon sequestration in deep soils. Read the article

2015 USEPA Scientific and Technological Achievement Award (STAA)

USGS NRP Scientist Mark Marvin-DiPasquale.

NRP Scientist Mark Marvin-DiPasquale, in collaboration with USGS scientists from the South Carolina Water Science Center, has received a Scientific and Technological Achievement Award (STAA) award from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The award recognizes the team's work on a package of three EPA modeling publications built on SANT-EPA collaboration at McTier Creek, SC. More details are available on the EPA STAA page.

Ronald Oremland Elected as AAAS Fellow

USGS NRP Scientist Ronald Oremland.

Dr. Ron Oremland was awarded the rank of Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS Council elects Fellows based on efforts that significantly advance science or that are scientifically or socially distinguished. Dr. Oremland was honored for his distinguished contributions and leadership in environmental microbiology. Read the announcement