2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM


WILSON, John L., PHILLIPS, Fred M., BOWMAN, Robert S., HENDRICKX, Jan M.H. and VIVONI, Enrique R., Earth & Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM 87801, jwilson@nmt.edu

The Hydrology Program at New Mexico Tech provides a model of how hydrologic science has changed over the last fifty years. In this nation most hydrologic science teaching and research was done by individuals back in the 1950s. Organized programs, like the one at Tech, were unusual, reflecting the immaturity of hydrologic science. They were also niche based, focused on one or two subdisciplines. Tech's program had a strong, if not exclusive, emphasis on the physical processes of groundwater hydrology. Famous names on the faculty, and among our visitors and graduates, were associated with groundwater subjects, especially well hydraulics and, later, stochastic groundwater hydrology. By the late 1980's interest had expanded to include paleohydrology, hydrogeochemistry and vadose zone hydrology, but the key adjective that applied to the title of most courses and much of the research was still “subsurface”. By the mid 1990s the niche focus began to change, both at Tech and nationally. Slowly at first and then more dramatically subdisciplines learned that they could no longer work alone to advance science, properly educate students, or solve applied problems. An interdisciplinary hydrologic science philosophy is evolving, and it's had a strong impact on the nature of education and research in Tech's Hydrology Program. New faculty provide a wider view of hydrologic science, while former “subsurface scientists” have lifted their vision far above ground. The emerging subdisciplines of hydrometeorology, ecohydrology, and remote sensing hydrology have joined traditional hydrologic subdisciplines to form a more comprehensive, coherent, but still maturing approach to hydrologic science research and education.