The Geological Society of America (GSA) Hydrogeology Division has awarded Bureau senior research scientist Bridget Scanlon its 2019 O. E. Meinzer Award, which is presented annually to the author or authors of a published paper or body of papers of distinction that advanced the science of hydrogeology or some closely related field.
Scanlon has conducted hydrogeology research in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, on topics ranging from karst hydrology to vadose-zone hydrology to groundwater management, at scales from soil ped to subcontinental. Scanlon’s selection for the award is based on four highly cited papers that are representative of the scope of her work: “Choosing appropriate techniques for quantifying groundwater recharge” (Hydrogeology Journal), “Global synthesis of groundwater recharge in semiarid and arid regions” (Hydrological Processes), “Groundwater depletion and sustainability of irrigation in the U.S. High Plains and Central Valley” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), and “Water use for shale-gas production in Texas, U.S.” (Environmental Science & Technology).
The first two papers helped establish Scanlon as “the leading global expert on groundwater recharge,” according to nominator Jack Sharp. Nominator Lenny Konikow noted that the second paper “laid the groundwork for later global analyses based on climate modeling and remote sensing data.” The Environmental Science & Technology paper was among the first studies to quantify water use for hydraulic fracturing, which is increasingly important in U.S. energy production and is likely to become significant in other countries, particularly China.
Said Scanlon, “I am extremely grateful for my colleagues at the Bureau of Economic Geology, particularly Bob Reedy, who has worked closely with me for over 20 years…. Within the past 10 years our research group has begun evaluating the interdependence of water and energy, including energy extraction and electricity generation. I learned from the early work that J. P. Nicot initiated on this topic and enjoyed collaborating with him on many projects related to unconventional energy extraction.”
Scanlon also expressed gratitude to Jack Jackson for providing his generous endowment to UT Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, as well as to the Fisher Endowed Chair in Geological Sciences for its support. Said Scanlon, “I am very grateful for all the opportunities arising during my career and look forward to continuing much of this work in the future. I greatly appreciate having been given this most prestigious award.”