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Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Earth, Air, & Water

Vitaly Zlotnik


Ph.D., 1979, Moscow Russia

Hydrogeology, Groundwater-surface water interactions, Hydrogeophysics and aquifer hydraulics, Hydrogeologic modeling, Hydrology

Contact Information

318 Bessey Hall

Hydrogeology of the 21st century is helping to address global challenges: concerns about climate change, population growth, and sustainability of scarce water resources. There is increasing focus on ecology because groundwater interacts directly with the land surface, vegetation, atmosphere, biosphere, and surface water. Breadth of problems calls for collaboration with climatologists, sedimentologists, geophysicists, meteorologists, engineers, and water resources managers. My projects in Europe, Central Asia, and the U.S. included effects of groundwater withdrawals on small streams in Belarus; heterogeneity properties of a shallow aquifer in Neckar Valley, Germany; salt accumulation in vadose zone under irrigated lands in Uzbekistan; morphological features of the sand bars and effects of the extensive groundwater pumping in the Platte River watershed, and variability of lake salinity in the Nebraska Sand Hills.

Recent projects with colleagues from the U.S. and abroad address:

1. Resilience of stressed watersheds (NSF-IGERT). The study explores effects of potential climate changes on the lakes in the western Sand Hills. These shallow groundwater-fed lakes rapidly respond and adjust to the groundwater recharge, and their numbers may rapidly change, i.e. decline in case of increased eavpotranspiration. We are planning to srtudy all Sand Hills area including streams and lakes

2. Salinity of lakes in the Sand Hills, Nebraska (NSF). We study fascinating and puzzling spatial and temporal patterns of varying lake salinity using broad array of methods: direct-push techniques for aquifer characterization, resistivity and electromagnetic methods of geophysics, groundwater modeling, isotope, diatomes, and optically stimulating luminescence dating, Landsat imagery, and GIS.

3. Biocomplexity of the Sand Hills (NSF). As a part of a multi-disciplinary team of geologists, ecologists, hydrologists, and meteorologists, we studied properties of groundwater recharge under various climate change scenarios.

4. Remediation of explosives and solvents in groundwater at the Superfund site, Mead, Nebraska (EPA). Using permanganate injection, we showed feasibility of in-situ contaminant destruction.

5. Plume conceptualization and monitoring (DoD). Combining hydraulic testing and electrical resistivity methods after permanganate injection, we provided characterization of groundwater remediation

I teach groundwater modeling, mass transport in groundwater, and field methods in hydrogeology as a part of Hydrogeology Specialization. My students have successful employment records in academia, federal and state agencies, the environmental and oil industry, in the U.S. and abroad. More information can be found on the personal web site.

Selected Publications

  • Zlotnik, V.A., J.B. Ong, and J.D. Lenters, J. Schmieder, S.C. Fritz, 2012, Quantification of salt dust pathways from a groundwater-fed lake: implications for solute budgets and dust emission rates, J. Geophys. Res., 117, doi:doi:10.1029/2011JF002107 .

  • Szilagyi, J., V.A. Zlotnik, J.B. Gates, J. Jozsa, 2011, Mapping mean annual groundwater recharge in the Nebraska Sand Hills, Hydrogeology J., 19, 1503-1513, doi:10.1007/s10040-011-0769-3.

  • Ong, J., J. Lane, V. Zlotnik, T. Halihan, and E. White, 2010, Combined use of frequency-domain electromagnetic and electrical resistivity surveys to delineate near-lake groundwater flow in the semi-arid Nebraska Sand Hills, USA, Hydrogeology Journal, 18, 1539–1545, doi:DOI 10.1007/s10040-010-0617-x.

  • Wang, T., V.A. Zlotnik, J. Šimunek, M. Schaap, 2009, Using process-based models and pedotransfer functions for soil hydraulic characteristics to estimate groundwater recharge in semi-arid regions, Water Resources Research, 45, doi:doi:10.1029/2008WR006903.

  • Zlotnik, V.A., F. Olaguera, J.B. Ong, 2009, An approach to assessment of flow regimes of groundwater-dominated lakes in arid environments, J. Hydrology, 371, 22-30, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.03.012.

  • Zlotnik, V.A., M. Burbach, J. Swinehart, D. Bennett, S. Fritz, D. Loope, 2007, A case study of direct push methods for aquifer characterization in dune-lake environments, Environmental and Engineering Geoscience, v. XIII, no 3, 205-216.

  • Kollet, S.J., and V.A. Zlotnik, 2005, Influence of aquifer heterogeneity and return flow on pumping test data interpretation, J. Hydrology, 300, 267-285.

  • Cardenas, M.B.R., J. Wilson, and V.A. Zlotnik, 2004, Impact of heterogeneity, bed forms, and stream curvature on subchannel hyporheic exchange, Water Resources Research, 40(8), W08307, doi:10.1029/2003/2004WR003008.