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The Boutt group has four main areas of focus:

Lithium & Arid Hydrology, North-East Hydrology & Climate Change, Isotopic & Geochemical Tracers, and Advanced Groundwater Modeling

Lithium & Arid Hydrology

Collaborative projects that the group is involved in focus on the hydrology, geochemistry, and geologic evolution of brines in closed basins around the world (e.g. the Salar de Atacama in northern Chile, Clayton Valley in USA, Puna of Argentina). In general, we are focused on understanding hydrologic and geochemical processes leading to the enrichment of lithium in these systems (Munk et al., 2016).  Our research group contributes to the understanding of groundwater flow and transport both in a modern and paleo-hydrologic context. Our team is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable groups in the world with respect to lithium-brine hydrogeology and we now have proposals pending for research in other regions (such as Argentina). Our work is featured in the Washington Post, as well as the Environmental Monitor.


North-East Hydrology & Climate Change

Our group has established itself as the top research team investigating the impacts of climate change on the New England’s region hydrological cycle. While the bulk of the work is focused on changes to the subsurface water storage, given the tightly coupled nature of these stores to other hydrological processes, we study changes in precipitation, evaporation, and streamflow.  Originally the work arose out of the motivation to leverage the wealth of instrumental data in the region, it has evolved into both components of environmental tracers and process-based hydrological modeling.

Isotopic & Geochemical Tracers

A theme throughout most of our research and projects is the use and application of environmental tracers and geochemical characterization of waters. A recent study established key controls on the isotopic composition of precipitation and surface and groundwaters across the US state of Massachusetts. This project was funded by the Mass. Environmental trust and is the foundation for future studies in the region on hydrological change. Constraining residence times of subsurface waters is another important focus of the group and is generally motivated by seeking an improved understanding of hydrological processes and management decisions. 


Advanced Groundwater Modeling

Groundwater modeling and quantitative analysis underpins every project we are involved in. Through the integration of of geochemical and isotopic tracers above, modeling allows the process based testing of hypotheses and also hydrologic predictions. In the application of these tools we asks questions such as: What are the time-scales of sustainable use of the freshwater abstraction from this aquifer? Or which parts of the state of Massachusetts will be subject to increased instances of groundwater flooding? A recent project supported by the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Projects used coupled flow and transport models to assess the likelihood of water quality degradation due to salt water intrusion along the southeast coast of Massachusetts.

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