Research

CWSS Research Objectives

The Center for Water Supply Studies is actively involved in conducting research relevant to addressing water supply issues in the Coastal Bend region of South Texas.

The Center for Water Supply Studies research is focused on:

  • Investigating barrier island stratigraphy, aquifer dynamics, and freshwater/saltwater interactions
  • Developing techniques for evaluating water contamination using proxies
  • Investigating sources of bacteria loading in surface water runoff and in ground water aquifers
  • Evaluating new water treatment technologies
  • Conducting geophysical studies to evaluate the stratigraphic and hydrogeological properties of aquifers

CWSS Research Projects (including graduate and undergraduate students)

  • understanding groundwater contributions to water quality and habitat degradationin coastal embayments.
  • Using radionuclides such as Radon (Rn) and Radium (Ra), elemental and stable isotope geochemistry, temperature, and electrical resistivity as indicators of groundwater discharge.
  • Understanding the role of groundwater nutrients in system-wide nutrient budgets, and hypoxia and phytoplankton (red & brown tide) trends in relation to groundwater flow and nutrient discharge.
  • Implications of climatic and anthropogenic change on decreased freshwater inflows to coastal embayments and increased salinities in surface water and groundwater in coastal areas.
  • Investigation of methane sources in groundwater active horizontal drilling areas and prediction of injected water quality changes under aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) using stable isotopes and modeling techniques.
  • Magnetotelluric and conductivity imaging of the geometry of barrier island freshwater aquifers
  • Development of forward modeling algorithms for modelling vertical electrical soundings of magnetotelluric and conductivity geophysical data
  • Development of software to extract NEXRAD rainfall data for use in watershed models
  • Investigation of groundwater/surface water interaction in Oso Creek to track bacteria sources
  • Study of the use of fluorescent whitening agents as tracers in the investigation of domestic sewage contamination of surface waters
  • Investigation of the geometry of the freshwater/saltwater interface on barrier islands
  • Examination of the correlation of rainfall recharge with spring flow at Comal Springs
  • Development of a variable density flow model of freshwater lens dynamics on Padre Island to contrain the flux of nitrogen into the coastal zone of the Gulf of Mexico

Recent Publications

Murgulet, D., Murgulet, V., Spalt, N., Douglas, A.*, Hay, R.G. (2016) Impact of hydrological alterations on river-groundwater exchange and water quality in a semi-arid area. Science of the Total Environment. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.198.

Douglas, A., Spalt, N., Murgulet, D., 2016. Effects of naturally occurring radium activity and activity ratio heterogeneity on derived water mass ages and SGD: lessons learned from Nueces Bay, Texas. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions (In Press).

Spalt, N., Douglas, A.*, Murgulet, D., 2016. Variation in SGD among Depositional Environments in a Semi-arid Coastal Area: Lessons Learned from South Texas Estuaries. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions (In Press).

Khan, R. H., Smith-Engle J.M., and Tissot, P., Murgulet D., (2016). Temporal Spatial and Depth Variations of Ground Water Chemistry: An Indicator of Hydro-Geochemical Evolution in Shallow Coastal Aquifers, South Texas. Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS) Journal (In Press).

Murgulet D., M. Cook, and V. Murgulet (2016) Groundwater Mixing Between Different Aquifer Types in a Complex Structural Setting Discerned by Elemental and Stable Isotope Geochemistry. Journal of Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10589.

Murgulet, D. and G.R. Tick (2016) Effect of variable-density groundwater flow on nitrate flux to coastal waters. Journal of Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10580

Tick, G.R., J.R.Harvell, and D. Murgulet (2015) Intermediate-Scale Investigation of Enhanced-Solubilization Agents on the Dissolution and Removal of a Multicomponent Dense Nonaqueous Phase Liquid (DNAPL) Source. Water Air and Soil Pollution, doi: 10.1007/s11270-015-2636-7.

Bighash, P. and D. Murgulet, (2015) Application of factor analysis and electrical resistivity to understand groundwater contributions to coastal embayments in semi-arid and hypersaline coastal settings. Science of the Total Environment. 532:688-701. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.077

Murgulet, D., M.S. Wetz, A. Douglas, N. Spalt, and K. Linares (2015). Evaluating Groundwater Inflow and Nutrient Transport to Texas Coastal Embayments. Scientific report submitted to Texas General Land Office August 2015.

Murgulet, D. and R.G. Hay (2015). Technical Support document: Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load for the Oso Creek Watershed, Texas. Submitted October 15, Contract No. 582-11-90501; Work Order No. 13

Weber, E. T. II and D. Denny (2009) 1-D inversion of magnetotelluric vertical electrical sounding curves: Defining coastal aquifers with freshwater-saltwater transition zones: Journal of Applied Geophysics.

Garrison, James R. Jr., E.T. Weber, II, S. Potter Miller, G. McMechan and X. Zeng (2009) Ground-penetrating Radar study of North Padre Island, Texas: Implications for barrier island internal architecture, models of micro-tidal barrier island growth, and Gulf of Mexico sea-level cyclicity: Journal of Sedimentary Research. doi:10.2110/jsr.2010.034

RecentPresentations

Spalt, N., Douglas, A., Murgulet, D., 2016. Coupling 222Rn measurements and geophysical techniques to constrain SGD occurrences in relation to estuarine depositional environments. VI International Ra-Rn Workshop, Girona, Spain. (July 18, 2016).

Douglas, A.R.*, Spalt, N.*, Murgulet, D., 2016. Effects of naturally occurring radium and radon activity heterogeneity on derived water mass ages and SGD: lessons learned from a semi-arid south Texas estuary. VI International Ra-Rn Workshop, Girona, Spain. (July 18, 2016).

Trevino, M.*, Hu, X., Douglas, A.*, Spalt, N.*, Murgulet, D., 2016. Alkalinity Dynamics in Groundwater Affected Secondary Bay in South Texas” Texas Bays and Estuaries Meeting, Port Aransas, Texas. (April 13, 2016). 

Spalt, N.*, Douglas, A.*, Trevino, M.*, Murgulet, D., 2016. Postulating Hydrodynamic and Geochemical Processes Associated with Nutrient Delivery in Copano Bay, Texas. Texas Bays and Estuaries Meeting, Port Aransas, Texas. (April 13, 2016).

Douglas, A.*, Spalt, N.*, Trevino, M.*, Murgulet, D., 2016. The role of submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) as a pathway for nutrient discharge to Nueces Bay, Texas. Texas Bays and Estuaries Meeting, Port Aransas, Texas. (April 13, 2016).

Murgulet, D., 2015. Submarine Groundwater Discharge and Nutrient Fluxes in a Semi-arid area: Lessons Learned from coastal South Texas; Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Environmental Engineering Department Seminar Series Invited talk.

Douglas, A, D. Murgulet, and N. Spalt. “Identifying Groundwater Discharge Sources and Associated Geochemical Influences Using Resistivity Imaging and Geochemical Tracers in a Semi-Arid Estuary in South Texas”. Poster presented at AGU Fall Meeting, December 14-18, 2015, San Francisco, California

Murgulet, D., "Submarine Groundwater Discharge and Nutrient Fluxes in a Semi-arid area: Lessons Learned from coastal South Texas," Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Environmental Engineering Department Seminar series Invited talk (2015) 

Douglas, A. (Author & Presenter), D. Murgulet (Author), C. Scotch (Author), W. McBee (Author), "Linking seasonal variation of submarine groundwater discharge to nutrient fluxes in Nueces Bay, Texas," National Groundwater Summit, NGWA, San Antonio. (March 2015). 

Douglas, A., D. Murgulet (Author), “The Role of Groundwater and Submarine Groundwater Discharge in Coastal Systems” Teachers on the Estuary Workshop and Mission-Aransas NERR (June 2015). 

Spalt, N. , D. Murgulet (Author), D. Audrey, "Groundwater and Associated Solute Contribution to a Pristine Semi-Arid Estuary Using Resistivity Imaging, Naturally Occurring Radioactive Tracers, and Geochemical Methods," American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. (December 16, 2015). 

Douglas, A., D. Murgulet. (Author), N. Spalt, "Groundwater Discharge and Salinity Sources to an Impaired Major River in a Semi-Arid Coastal Region: Nueces River, Texas," American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. (December 16, 2015). 

Murgulet, V., D. Murgulet. (Author), R.G. Hay, "Groundwater Discharge and Salinity Sources to an Impaired Major River in a Semi-Arid Coastal Region: Nueces River, Texas," American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. (December 16, 2015). 

Murgulet, D. (Author & Presenter), A. Douglas, N. Spalt, "Processes Driving Submarine Groundwater Discharge and Nutrient Fluxes in a Semi-arid Coastal Area: Coastal South Texas," American Geophysical Union, San Francisco. (December 16, 2015). 

Douglas, A., D. Murgulet, C. Scotch, and W. McBee, "Linking seasonal variation of submarine groundwater discharge to nutrient fluxes in Nueces Bay, Texas," National Groundwater Summit, NGWA, San Antonio (2015).