With respect to the Water focus area, we study and teach about water’s movement through the water cycle and its influences on landscapes.  We investigate how the melting of icecaps and glaciers is affected by climate and contributes to changes in sea level and runoff; how water, sediment and contaminants move through hillslopes, rivers, and groundwater; coupling of life and landscapes in forested, aquatic, and geothermal environments; how energy balance and other controls affect runoff and groundwater recharge; and the application of this science to restoration, management, and sustainability.

Our faculty addresses these topics using a variety of field, laboratory, and computational tools. Field studies have entailed, for example, drilling to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet to install sensors for monitoring water flow and ice motion; instrumenting mountain watersheds to measure water and energy flows; measuring pharmaceuticals in groundwater; and tracking sediment movement and channel change after large dam removals. Computer modeling and laboratory techniques, such as geochemical analyses or flume modeling of river processes, complement our field efforts, providing generalizable insights into surface processes.

water dye test in snowy environment

The Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana has a diverse group of faculty who are nationally and internationally recognized for their research. Our faculty maintain active collaboration with other UM departments and other research institutions throughout the nation and around the world. Faculty have well-funded, active research programs.

Our department is also the home to a number of formal Research Facilities with a range of functions.