William Alley

William Alley, Ph.D. (Southern California)

U.S. Geological Survey Emeritus

Communicating Groundwater Science: From Real-Time to a Million Years


One of the great challenges facing groundwater hydrologists is to communicate the highly variable spatial and temporal characteristics of groundwater systems and their responses to human and natural stresses. This talk presented a travelogue in time: using a series of examples, the lecture examined temporal scales ranging from real-time measurements to forecasting a million years into the future. An assortment of topics were presented including water level responses to earthquakes, diurnal variations in groundwater/surface-water interactions, annual responses to droughts, implications of long-term climate change, decadal-to-millennial scale responses to pumping, residual effects of glacial periods, and forecasts for nuclear waste disposal.


Dr. William M. Alley served as Chief of the Office of Groundwater for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Dr. Alley has published over 80 scientific publications, including the text Regional Ground-Water Quality. He has served on national and international committees for UNESCO and the National Research Council, as a Director for the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) Scientists and Engineers Division, on the U.S. National Committee of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, and as Associate Editor for Ground Water and the Hydrogeology Journal. Dr. Alley is a recipient of the NGWA John Hem Award, the USGS Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communication, the Department of Interior Distinguished Service Award, the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, and the Groundwater Foundation E. Benjamin Nelson Government Service Award. He received a B.S. in Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.S. in Hydrogeology from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.