Kate Maher

Stanford University

Kate Maher is an Associate Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Sciences in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. Kate received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in Environmental Earth Science in 1999, her M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from U.C. Berkeley in 2001, and her Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from U.C. Berkeley in 2005. Prior to coming to Stanford in 2007, she was a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA. In 2015, Kate was awarded the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union. Kate’s research focuses on the coupling between biogeochemical and hydrologic processes occurring at or near the Earth’s surface, with applications spanning from the remediation of contaminants to global biogeochemical cycles. Her research methods include reactive transport modeling, field and experimental studies, and isotope geochemistry. Kate has also been a member of the NSF Critical Zone Observatory Steering Committee since 2014 and is a co-investigator on the DOE Water Quality Science Focus Area. https://earth.stanford.edu/researchgroups/eigg/

Response of biogeochemical interfaces to hydrologic fluctuations: the ultimate control on water quality?

The complex architecture of sedimentary systems produces a range of biogeochemical interfaces within groundwater systems. Alternatively, interfaces can form purely from the imprint of the hydrologic and biogeochemical processes. Both types of interfaces may control water quality by moderating the fluxes of electron acceptors and donors to groundwater. However, the ultimate influence of these ubiquitous interfaces is often difficult to ascertain because of difficulties in measuring gradients in solutes at the appropriate scales. Reactive transport modeling combined with global sensitivity analysis provides an approach to evaluate how such complex interfaces moderate water quality. Examples of high-spatial resolution field measurements combined with reactive transport modeling suggest that both the intrinsic sedimentary architecture and the climate- and human-driven hydrologic forcings combine to create transiently reduced zones (TRZs) that respond over seasonal timescales. The spatial distribution of these dynamic zones not only impacts the persistence of the interfaces but also the degree to which they influence water quality in the advective zones.


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