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Alex Rinehart, PhD

Assistant Professor

Earth and Environmental Science

My research spans hydrology, geophysics and rock mechanics. I focus on coupled processes in the subsurface, exploring linkages of chemical reactions, flow and rock deformation experimentally and at the field scale. This broad focus is rooted in my previous applied experience working at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Sandia National Labs. Overall, my research is focused on water-mediated time-dependent rock deformation (subsidence, fracture and creep deformation), using environmental tracers to understand controls on groundwater flow and paleoclimate, and, recently, mapping and quantifying soil properties to understand ecohydrologic feedbacks on weathering and recharge patterns.
My group works mostly on problems of coupled flow, chemical reactions and rock deformation in aquifers and deep reservoirs. Experimentally, I run a laboratory at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center where we work on the impacts of CO2 on the strength and permeability of rocks during long-term storage to mitigate climate change. These tests include long-term flow through experiments with detailed petrographic and strength studies, chemically activated creep deformation experiments, CO2-water-oil relative permeability experiments, and high-temperature and high-pressure fracture experiments. Current active projects include chemomechanical reservoir characterization of the Morrow system in the panhandle of Texas with the Southwest Carbon Sequestration Partnership (SWP) and of the Jurassic section in the northern San Juan Basin for the CarbonSAFE-San Juan project. We are also working on fracture testing of samples from the Dry Valleys, Antarctica, to help link rock fracture properties to mechanical weathering rates.
In addition, I am collaborating with geodesists at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on using surface deformation measurements (InSAR and GNSS/GPS) to understand groundwater movement throughout New Mexico.
Current near-surface studies include a regional drainage and environmental tracer study of the irrigation drains in the southern Albuquerque Basin to understand deep vs. shallow groundwater connections to surface flows, a collaboration with the Sevilleta LTER to quantify soil parameters at sites where precipitation will be manipulated over the next twenty years, and using traditional soils measurements and repeat gravity to quantify run-off controls in a low-relief but geologically heterogeneous ephemeral wash.
  • HYD 514: Vadose Zone Hydrology
  • HYD 558: Environmental Tracers in Hydrology
  • HYD 572: Advanced topics: Rock Fracture in Geologic Settings
  • ERTH 440: Hydrological Theory and Field Methods
  • GEOP 505 / MATH 587: Time Series Analysis
Current Group Members:
Andrew Luhmann (Wheaton College, assistant professor)
Ronni Grapenthin (University of Alaska - Fairbanks, )
Sai Wang (post-doc, PRRC)
Robert Czarnota (post-doc, PRRC)
Raven Goswick (staff researcher and PhD student, PRRC)
Samuel Otu (MS, Hydrology, E&ES/PRRC, NMT)
Jason Simmons (MS, Hydrology, E&ES/PRRC, NMT)
Ethan Williams (MS, Hydrology, E&ES, NMT)
Emily Graves (PhD, Geophysics, UAF)
CV via Google Doc