Laura Lautz

Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Earth Sciences

Research and Teaching Interests

I am a hydrologist, with a geological training, whose research goal is to further understand how physical hydrologic processes influence water quality and movement through watersheds. I am particularly interested in understanding how water moves through paired surface water and groundwater systems, heat tracing in hydrologic systems, and interactions between the energy and water cycles.

My broad interest in the exchange of water between surface and subsurface environments has led me to do several specific interdisciplinary research projects. Generally, my research involves field experiments coupled with computer modeling experiments.

For a list of current projects, please visit:

For more information on the EMPOWER graduate training program, please visit:


Hydrogeology (EAR 401/601)

Water-Energy Seminar (EAR 612)


Emily Baker (PhD Student)

Nathaniel Chien (MS Student)

Robin Glas (PhD Candidate)

Amanda Schulz (PhD Student)


Watershed Hydrology Lab: The Watershed Hydrology lab contains instrumentation for laboratory analysis of the chemistry of natural waters and for collecting field measurements. The lab is well equipped with several refrigerators for sample storage, fume hoods, drying ovens, mass balances, adjustable pipettes, and volumetric glassware.

Major laboratory instrumentation includes:
- Two-Column Dionex Reagent Free Ion Chromatography System, ICS-2000, with autosampler (for simultaneously measuring anion and     cation concentrations, such as calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, and nitrate, among others)
- Picarro L2130-i Water Isotope Analyzer, with autosampler (for measuring oxygen and hydrogen isotopic composition of water)
- Barnstead NANApure DIamond Ultrapure Water System (for water deionization)

Field instrumentation includes:
- Nikon Reflectorless Total Station (and accessories)
- Portable WTW pH/specific conductance/dissolved oxygen probes
- Geopump Persitaltic Pumps and an FMI piston pump for well sampling
- Flow-through field fluorometer
- ADV velocity meter
- Marsh-McBirney flow meters
- iButton temperature data logger
- Davis VantagePro2 weather stations

Selected Publications

Examples of publications from the past two years are listed below. For the most up to date list, see: 

Christian, K, LK Lautz, GD Hoke, DI Siegel, Z Lu, J Kessler. 2016. Methane occurrence is associated with sodium-rich valley waters in domestic wells overlying the Marcellus Shale in New York State. Water Resources Research, 52(1):206-226. doi: 10.1002/2015WR017805

Aubry-Wake, C, M Baraer, JM McKenzie, BG Mark, O Wigmore, R Hellstrom, LK Lautz. 2015. Glacier surface temperature measurements using ground-based infrared imagery: new insights for melt influence of margins and debris cover. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(20):8489-8497. doi:10.1002/2015GL065321.

Lu, Z, S Hummel, LK Lautz, GD Hoke, X Zhou, J Leone, DI Siegel. 2015. Iodine as a sensitive tracer for detecting influence of organic-rich shale in shallow groundwater. Applied Geochemistry, 60: 29-36. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.10.019

Irvine, DJ, LK Lautz, MA Briggs, RP Gordon, JM McKenzie. 2015. Experimental evaluation of the applicability of phase, amplitude, and combined methods to determine water flux and thermal diffusivity from temperature time series using VFLUX 2. Journal of Hydrology, 531(3):728-737. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.10.054

Smidt, S, J Cullin, A Ward, J Robinson, M Zimmer, L Lautz, T Endreny. 2015. A comparison of hyporheic transport at a stream restoration structure and natural feature. Ground Water, 53(6):859-871. doi:10.1111/gwat.12288.Irvine, DJ, LK Lautz. 2015. High resolution mapping of hyporheic fluxes using streambed temperatures: Recommendations and limitations. Journal of Hydrology, 524:137-146. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.02.030

Ledford, SH, LK Lautz. 2015. Floodplain connection buffers seasonal changes in urban stream water quality. Hydrological Processes, 29(6):1002-1016. doi:10.1002/hyp.10210

Irvine, DJ, R Cranswick, CT Simmons, M Shanafield, LK Lautz. 2015. The effect of streambed heterogeneity on temperature time series methods to quantify groundwater-surface water exchange. Water Resources Research, 51(1):198-212. doi:10.1002/2014WR015769

Zimmer, MA, LK Lautz. 2015. Pre- and post-restoration assessment of stream-ground water interactions: impacts on hydrological and chemical heterogeneity in the hyporheic zone. Freshwater Science, 34(1):287-300. doi: 10.1086/679514.

Gordon, RP, LK Lautz, JM McKenzie, BG Mark, D Chavez, M Baraer. 2015. Sources and pathways of stream generation in tropical proglacial valleys of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Journal of Hydrology, 522:628-644. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.01.013