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Dr. Jim M. Thomas

Executive Director, Division of Hydrologic Sciences
4a696d2e54686f6d6173406472692e656475
775-673-7305
hydrogeology, geochemistry, water quality, isotopes, international research, water resource assessment

Professional Interests

My general research interests include hydrogeology, water chemistry, age dating groundwaters, groundwater recharge and discharge processes, watershed hydrology and chemistry, evaluating water resources, and water resource potability and sustainability in developing countries. My research is primarily in three geographic areas: 1) northern Nevada watersheds, particularly the Lake Tahoe and Walker Lake watersheds; 2) southern and eastern Nevada; and 3) West Africa.

Research Interests

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe  watershed clearity measurements.

Lake Tahoe clarity has been declining about 1 foot per year since the first clarity measurements in the late 1960’s. A major effort of my research has been providing decision makers and regulators with information to set policy on how best to restore Lake Tahoe clarity. This research includes nutrient and fine sediment loading to the lake from surface-water runoff and groundwater inflow to the lake. Research projects include evaluating the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs), including both natural and engineered structures to remove fine sediment and nutrients from surface-water runoff. These studies also include (1) the evaluation of land use on runoff and the associated fine sediment and nutrient concentrations; (2) phosphorus adsorption on sediments beneath settling basins; (3) determining the source of fine sediments in watersheds with surface water flow into the lake.

Walker Lake

Walker Lake  watershed

My research in the Walker Lake basin focuses on the hydrology of the Walker Lake watershed including determining the hydrologic and dissolved salt budgets of Walker Lake. My research projects have also focused on groundwater flow to Walker Lake and groundwater flow and nutrient loading to Bridgeport Reservoir in the Walker Lake watershed. The Walker Lake basin is a unique internally drained watershed in the Great Basin of the western United States. The lake has no outlet, so the lake depends solely on surface water and groundwater inflow to maintain a hydrologic balance. Thus, the total dissolved salt (TDS) concentration of the lake depends on the amount of salt entering the lake from surface water and groundwater inflow and atmospheric deposition on the lake surface and the volume of water in the lake. Diversions of surface water in valleys upstream of Walker Lake for irrigation, beginning with the Bodie, California gold rush in the 1860’s when water was diverted to grow vegetables and beef for the nearby remote mining community, have resulted in the level of Walker Lake to steadily declined. The current volume of Walker Lake is about 80 percent of it’s volume in the 1800s. This dramatic reduction in lake volume has resulted in the lake salinity, TDS, increasing from about 2500 mg/l to 15,000 mg/l.

Southern and Eastern Nevada

Southern  Nevada watersheds

My research in southern and eastern Nevada has focused on regional groundwater flow system sources, travel times, and water budgets. The Death Valley flow system in southern Nevada and the White River flow system in eastern and southeastern Nevada encompass numerous valleys and hundreds of square miles with groundwater flowing beneath topographic divides and discharging at regional springs. Understanding the sources and amounts of groundwater in these regional flow systems and the time it takes groundwater recharged in mountainous recharge areas to flow to regional spring discharge areas is extremely important for water resource management in Nevada. Additionally, understanding the time involved in the potential radionuclide migration.

West Africa

Developing  water supplies in West Africa

My research in West Africa has involved developing water supplies for rural villages in Ghana, Mali, and Niger. Rural villagers often lack a potable source of drinking water and non-potable sources of water often disappear during the dry season. Hand pumps are installed for village water supplies when successful wells are drilled. Developing reliable water supplies in rural villages also requires that the water is safe to drink. Water quality is a very important part of this project because high fluoride concentrations are often observed in the groundwater in these West Africa countries. This high fluoride, along with other trace elements such as arsenic, need to be treated to ensure that safe drinking water is being supplied to the villagers. Bacterial testing is also important to identify any wells with groundwater that is being contaminated from land surface sources so that the problem can be fixed.

Education

DegreeInstitutionArea
Ph.D. University of Nevada, Reno Hydrology / Hydrogeology
M.S. Indiana University, Bloomington Geology
B.S. University of Vermont, Burlington Geology

Academic Affiliations

Publications

2014

Abatzoglou, J. T., Hegewisch, K., Carroll, R. W., Lutz, A., Leising, J. F., Rajagopal, S., Brooks, K., Thomas, J. M., 2014: Impacts of a Changing Climate on Water Resources in the Eastern Great Basin, DRI, Submitted

2013

Lutz, A., Diarra, S., Thomas, J. M., Ayamsegna, J., 2013: Drinking Water from Hand-Pumps in Mali, Niger, and Ghana, West Africa: Review of Health Effects, Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 5, (8A), Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Diarra, S., 2013: Chemistry of Hand-Pump Waters in Ghana, Mali, and Niger, West Africa: Potential Health Effects, The Fourteenth International Symposium on Water-Rock Interaction: Avignon, France, June 9, 2013-June 14, 2013, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Diarra, S., 2013: Chemistry of Hand-Pump Waters in Ghana, Mali, and Niger, West Africa: Potential Health Effects, Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, 7, 541-545, Published
Mensing, S. A., Sharpe, S. E., Tunno, I., Sada, D. W., Starrat, S., Smith, J., Thomas, J. M., 2013: The late Holocene dry period: multiproxy evidence for an extended drought during 2800 and 1850 cal yr BP across the central Great Basin, USA, Quaternary Science Reviews, 78, 266-282, Published

2012

Abatzoglou, J. T., Diehl, H., Leising, J. F., Lutz, A., Redmond, K. T., Thomas, J. M., 2012: Evaluation of Climate Change Effects on Water Resources in Eastern Nevada, DRI Publication Number: 41255, Published
Heyvaert, A. C., Caldwell, T., Nover, D. M., Towbridge, W., Schladow, G., Reuter, J. E., Thomas, J. M., 2012: Characterization of Fine Suspended Particulates in Tahoe Basin Stormwater, 2012 Tahoe Science Conference: Incline Village, NV, May 22, 2012-May 24, 2012, Published
Thomas, J. M., Redmond, K. T., Lutz, A., Abatzoglou, J. T., Stone, M. C., McCurdy, G. D., Earman, S. B., Leising, J. F., Donovan, D. J., 2012: Preliminary Evaluation of Climate Change Effects on Water Resources in Eastern Nevada, Ed. Lutz, A., 82, Desert Research Institute Publication prepared for the Nevada System of Higher Education and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, DRI Publication Number 41252, Published

2011

Bisiaux, M. M., Edwards, R., Heyvaert, A. C., Thomas, J. M., Fitzgerald, B. C., Susfalk, R. B., Schladow, S. G., Thaw, M. N., 2011: Stormwater and fire as sources of black carbon nano particles to Lake Tahoe, Environmental Science and Technology, 45, 2065-2071, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Abatzoglou, J. T., Diehl, H., 2011: Analysis of Observational Data: Hydroclimate Trends at Sites in Eastern Nevad, American Water Resources Association, Annual Water Resources Conference: Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 7, 2011-November 10, 2011, Published

2010

Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Panorska, A. K., 2010: Environmental controls on stable isotope precipitation values over Mali and Niger, West Africa, Environmental Earth Sciences, Published

2009

Heyvaert, A. C., Chandra, S., Fritsen, C. H., Hershey, R. L., Moser, D. P., Stone, M. C., Bruckner, J., Lutz, A., Memmot, J., Umek, J., Thomas, J. M., 2009: Contemporary Limnology of Walker Lake, Nevada, In Restoration of a Desert Lake in an Agriculturally Dominated Watershed: The Walker Lake Basin, Published
Heyvaert, A. C., Lutz, A., Memmott, J. C., Thomas, J. M., Stone, M. C., 2009: Development and application of a limnological database and ecological model for Walker Lake in western Nevada, USA., International Symposium on Terminus Lakes: Reno, Nevada, Published
Heyvaert, A. C., Reuter, J. E., Thomas, J. M., 2009: Water Quality, In Comprehensive Science Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin: Conceptual Framework and Research Strategies, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Keita, M., McKay, W. A., 2009: Ground Water Level Monitoring in Mali and Ghana, West Africa - Ground Water Management Under Climate Change: Implications for Developing Countries, National Ground Water Association, Ground Water Summit: Tucson, New Mexico, April 22, 2009-April 22, 2009, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Pohll, G. M., Keita, M., McKay, W. A., 2009: Sustainability of ground water in Mali, West Africa, Environmental Geology, 58, 1441-1450, Published

2008

Coats, R., Larsen, M., Heyvaert, A. C., Thomas, J. M., Luck, M., Reuter, J. E., 2008: Nutrient and sediment production, watershed characteristics and land use in the Tahoe Basin, California-Nevada, Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 44, 754-770, Published
TrembathReichert, E., Mailoux, B., Stute, M., VanGeen, A., Freyer, G., Zheng, Y., O'Mullan, G., Foster, R., Thomas, J. M., Buccholz, B., 2008: 14C analysis of microbial DNA from Bangladesh groundwater: Implications for deep aquifer sustainability, Geological Society of America: Houston, Texas, Published

2007

Bohm, B., Thomas, J. M., Dahan, O., Ralston, J., McKay, W. A., 2007: Ground water chemistry evolution under unsaturated zone sulfate salt dissolution in a Great Basin lacustrine aquifer, western United States, Journal of American Water Resources Association, Submitted
Carroll, R. W., Thomas, J. M., Sharpe, S. E., 2007: Water rights purchases using the current Walker Lake Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) model., Truckee River Symposium Headwaters to Terminus and Western U.S. Terminal Lakes: Research Needs for Policy Decisions: Reno, NV, Published
Hershey, R. L., Heilweil, P., Gardner, P., Lyles, B. F., Earman, S. B., Thomas, J. M., Lundmar, K. W., 2007: Ground-water chemistry interpretations supporting the Basin and Range regional carbonate-rock aquifer system (BARCAS) study, eastern Nevada and western Utah, Published
Knochenmus, L. A., Laczniak, R. J., Moreo, M. T., Sweetkind, D. S., Wilson, J. W., Thomas, J. M., Justet, L., Hershey, R. L., Earman, S. B., Lyles, B. F., Lundmark, K., 2007: Ground-water conditions, in Welch, A. H., Bright, D. J., and Knochenmus, L. A., eds., Water resources of the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifer system, White Pine County, Nevada, and adjacent areas in Nevada and Utah, U. S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5261, 37-42, Published
Laczniak, R. J., Flint, A. L., Moreo, M. T., Knochenmus, L. A., Lundmark, K., Pohll, G. M., Carroll, R. W., Smith, J. L., Welborn, T. L., Heilweil, V. M., Pavelko, M. T., Hershey, R. L., Thomas, J. M., Earman, S. B., Lyles, B. F., 2007: Ground-water budgets, in Welch, A. H., Bright, D. J., and Knochenmus, L. A., eds., Water resources of the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifer system, White Pine County, Nevada, and adjacent areas in Nevada and Utah, U. S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5261, 43-68, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Pohll, G. M., Keita, M., Apambire, B., McKay, W. A., 2007: Ground Water Resource Sustainability in the Bani Area of Mali, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Pohll, G. M., McKay, W. A., 2007: Groundwater resource sustainability in the Nabogo Basin of Ghana, West Africa, Journal of African Earth Sciences, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Apambire, W., Keita, M., McKay, W. A., 2007: Groundwater Resource Sustainability in Mali, National Ground Water Association Groundwater Summit: Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 29, 2007-May 3, 2007, Published
Mihevc, T. M., Thomas, J. M., 2007: Water chemistry, stable isotope, chlorofluorocarbon, and noble gas sampling and analyses of Arrow Creek Well #4, Published
Patterson, G. L., Thomas, J. M., 2007: Carbon-14 groundwater analysis, Office of Science and Technology International, Annual Report, Published
Sawyer, F. E., Thomas, J. M., Earman, S. B., Carroll, R. W., 2007: Coupled mixing-cell and mass balance flowpath models of the Whiter River Flow System, Nevada, National Ground Water Association 2007 Ground Water Summit: Albuquerque, Published
Sharpe, S. E., Cablk, M. E., Thomas, J. M., 2007: The Walker Basin, Nevada and California: Physical Environment, Hydrology, and Biology, Published
Thomas, J. M., Decker, D. L., Patterson, G. L., Peterman, Z. E., Mihevc, T. M., Larsen, J. D., Hershey, R. L., 2007: Yucca Mountain area saturated zone dissolved organic carbon isotopic data, Yucca Mountain Nevada System of Higher Education Final Report, Published

2006

Bohm, B., Thomas, J. M., Dahan, O., Ralston, J., McKay, W. A., 2006: Ground water chemistry evolution under unsaturated zone sulfate salt dissolution in a Great Basin lacustrine aquifer, western United States, Published
Goddard, K., Welch, A., Thomas, J. M., 2006: BARCASS: An integrated, multi-agency hydrogeologic study of east-central Nevada, Published
Lundmark, K., Pohll, G. M., Carroll, R. W., Thomas, J. M., 2006: Regional Water Budget Accounting and Uncertainty Analysis Using a Deuterium-Calibrated Discrete State Compartment Model: White Pine County, Nevada, and Adjacent Areas in Nevada and Utah, Published
Patterson, G. L., Thomas, J. M., 2006: Carbon-14 groundwater analysis, Published
Sawyer, F. E., Thomas, J. M., Earman, S. B., 2006: A coupled mixing-cell and geochemical flow path model of the White River flow system, Nevada, USA, National Ground Water Association 2006 National Ground Water Summit, Published
Sawyer, F. E., Thomas, J. M., Earman, S. B., 2006: Coupled Mixing-Cell and Mass Balance Flow Path Models of the White River Flow System, Nevada, USA, Published
Sawyer, F. E., Thomas, J. M., Earman, S. B., Carroll, R. W., 2006: Coupled mixing-cell and mass balance flow path models of the White River flow system, Nevada, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting: San Francisco, Published

2005

Acheampong, S. Y., Thomas, J. M., Cooper, C. A., 2005: Estimation of circulation depths of some low temperature thermal springs in east-central Nevada, Published
Ayamsegna, J. A., Ampabire, W. B., Thomas, J. M., Lutz, A., 2005: Groundwater quality assessment, treatment, and monitoring in the Greater Afram Plains and northern region of Ghana, Published
Hershey, R. L., Thomas, J. M., Rose, T. P., Paces, J. B., Farnham, I. M., Benedict, J. ,., 2005: Evaluation of groundwater movement in the Frenchman Flat CAU using geochemical and isotopic analysis, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Apambire, B., Ayamsegna, J. A., McKay, W. A., 2005: Groundwater resource sustainability in the Nabogo Basin of Northern Ghana, Published
Lutz, A., Thomas, J. M., Apambire, W., Ayamsegna, J., McKay, W. A., 2005: Groundwater resource sustainability in a small watershed in northern Ghana, National Groundwater Association: San Antonio, TX, Published
Patterson, G. L., Thomas, J. M., 2005: Carbon-14 groundwater analysis, 183-185, Published
Thomas, J. M., Deverel, S., Decker, D. L., Earman, S. B., Mihevc, T. M., Acheampong, S. Y., 2005: Groundwater Evaporation From a Playa in Spring Valley, Nevada, H33G-08, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting: San Francisco, Published
Winograd, I. J., Fridrich, C. J., Sweetkind, D., Belcher, W. R., Thomas, J. M., 2005: Comment on "Testing the interbasin flow hypothesis at Death Valley, California", American Geophysical Union, EOS, 32, 86, 294-297, Published

2004

Dahan, O., McGraw, D. S., Adara, E., Pohll, G. M., Bohm, B., Thomas, J. M., 2004: Multi-variable mixing cell model as a calibration and validation tool for hydrogeologic groundwater modeling, Journal of Hydrology, 293, 115-136, Published
Dahan, O., McGraw, D. S., Adara, E., Pohll, G. M., Bohm, B., Thomas, J. M., 2004: Multi-variable mixing cell model as a calibration and validation tool for hydrogeologic groundwater modeling, Journal of Hydrology, 293, 115-136, Published

Authors

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Study of the natural and human factors that influence the availability and quality of water resources.
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