About the Hydrogeology Lab

The Hydrogeology Research Lab at Michigan State University is composed of a dedicated computer lab with adjoining student offices, conference room, and faculty offices. We have extensive field equipment for characterization of subsurface aquifer properties and measurement of hydrologic processes. Members of the research team work with interdisciplinary data to model spatial and temporal variations in groundwater recharge.

The Hydrogeology Lab complex is located in the Natural Science Building which lies near the north side of the Michigan State University campus. Our suite of faculty, student, and postdoc offices centered on Room 315. Additional equipment storage facilities are located in the basement of Natural Sciences, and computational resources are housed at co-located facilities around campus.


The Hydrogeology Lab complex is located in the Natural Science Building which lies near the north side of the Michigan State University campus. Our suite of offices for faculty, student and postdoc offices span three rooms on the third floor, and includes an 8-person conference room with large-screen LCD TV and an informal gathering space with a recently-upgraded kitchenette. Graduate students have spacious work areas in quiet work-only offices (for instances, office hours for teaching assistants are held in other rooms). Undergraduates work in a shared environment with seven work areas. Postdocs typically work in either 1- or 2- person offices in lower traffic areas of our facility.


The Hydrogeology Lab has high performance computers, instruments for hydraulic properties and sediment size analysis, geophysical equipment, and field hydrogeological equipment. A lending library system has been created to assist in the organization of the lab equipment availability and condition.


  • Each student uses a fast, modern desktop workstation with two monitors for their class and research work.
  • Postdocs are provided laptops for work-related use, graduate students with remote work needs are also accommodated.
  • We have licenses for MATLAB, GMS, COMSOL, and ArcGIS for coding, modeling, and GIS work. Additional licenses for graphical work include Illustrator, Surfer, and Grapher. Additional software licenses can be purchased to fit individual students needs.
  • In addition to regular computer workstations, we have two (as of August, 2016) additional servers with large amounts of RAM, 8-12 physical cores, and spacious disk scratch space. These are housed in a climate-controlled co-located facility nearby on campus, with 128 GB of RAM running recent generation Intel Xeon processors. We anticipate acquiring additional similarly-classed servers in the near future.
  • Beyond our own facilities, we also have accounts and access to a campus wide set of massively-parallel clusters at the High Performance Computing Center (see the link below).

Virtual Infrastructure

  • Organized multi-tiered field, GIS, and remote sensing data storage
  • Heavily redundant, network-connected, off-site (and co-located) network storage for most student work since the dawn of the digital era.
  • Actively maintained lab wiki (running Confluence software) with an extensive Knowledgebase contributed by current and past lab members.
  • Online task and project management (running Redmine software) for integrating undergraduate researchers into the graduate and professional research process.
  • Local (via SVN) and campus wide (via GIT) code repositories

Field Vehicles

  • Shared use of an extended-cab full-bed 4×4 Dodge Ram 1500 affectionately named “Big Boy”, with a TomTom GPS navigator named “Susan” (members of our lab spend a lot of time with these two!)
  • Shared use of a 14-foot Boston Whaler with a 50 HP 4-cycle engine and integrated GPS depth sounder/fish finder

Major Hydrogeologic Instrumentation

  • Hundreds of “iButton” temperature sensors deployed at sites across Michigan measuring soil and water temperatures
  • Over 100 Dataflow Systems Odyssey loggers, measuring water temperature and pressure, soil water content, water salinity, incident solar radiation, and rainfall
  • Approximately 10 miniTroll pressure transducers used for shorter-period deployments, such as during a pump test
  • Two small diameter electric tapes for manual water level readings
  • A RiverSurveyor S5 Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) by SonTek, Inc, with bluetooth communications, hydroboard flotation device, and built-in real-time kinematic (RTK) correction GPS system.
  • An OTT Acoustic Doppler Current Meter (ADCM)
  • A Marsh McBirney FLO-MATE 2000
  • Two InSitu SmarTroll 5000 multi-parameter handheld probes
  • Three YSI Sondes (two 600R and one 600XLS)
  • Leica TC605 surveying Total Station

Additional Instrumentation and Equipment:

  • Field laptops spanning the range from small and cheap to fully rugged
  • Multiple cameras equipped with GPS for location tagging
  • Several multi-head peristaltic pumps for lab bench or field use
  • Field equipment including waders, measuring tapes, surveying equipment, ropes, toolboxes, tools, etc.

Hydraulic properties analysis

  • A series of adjacent permeameters for simultaneous measurement of hydraulic conductivity and porosity of five samples
  • A full set of sieves with a RotoTap machine for particle size analysis, and an X-ray particle size analyzer.

Geophysical Equipment

We have a range of state-of-the art research-grade geophysical equipment

  • An 8 channel AGI SuperSting Earth Resistivity and IP meter for use at 3 permanently installed arrays as well as fast surveying with portable 84 electrode array
  • Lippmann 4-point light electrical resistivity meter
  • Mala GPR with 100, 250, and 800 MHz antenna
  • Geometrics StrataView 72 channel Seismograph for reflection/refraction studies
  • Bartington Magnetometer
  • Sensors and Software GPR with 50, 100, 200, and 400 MHz antennae for both surface and down-borehole applications.


So many of the important questions addressed by the Hydrogeology Lab at MSU are fundamentally interdisciplinary, at various times involving aspects of microbiology, ecology, geography, geology, chemistry, engineering, and the social sciences.  MSU recognizes that one of its greatest strengths is the size and scope of its faculty, and greatly encourages interdisciplinary collaboration through seed proposals and permanent interdisciplinary research centers. Learn more about individual collaborators on our Hydrology Lab Collaborators Page

The Hydrogeology Lab has affiliations with these interdisciplinary centers here at MSU: