Dr. Mark Person

Mark Person, PhD


Earth & Environmental Science

Research Areas

  • Paleohydrology
  • Low-temperature geothermal systems
  • Induced seismicity
  • Hydrogeophysics
  • Numerical methods

My research interests are primarily focused on studying how groundwater flow systems evolve over geologic time scales and how subsurface flow systems affect geologic processes. One focus of my research has been centered on assessing how Pleistocene glaciations have influenced regional groundwater flow systems within sedimentary basins (Person et al. 2007; Bense and Person, 2008) and on the continental shelf (Person et al. 2003; Cohen et al. 2009; Defoor et al. 2011; Post et al. 2013). While this topic may sound esoteric, it is relevant coastal cities in arid regions of the world as well as to high-level nuclear waste repository siting efforts in countries such as Sweden, Canada, and Switzerland. Another focus of my work has been on assessing the role of groundwater flow in petroleum generation (Person and Garven, 1992; Person et al. 1995), petroleum migration (Person et al. 2012), and triggered seismicity (Zhang et al. 2013; 2017). I am also interested in how permeable fault systems affect groundwater flow and hot spring formation within the extensional tectonic settings (Bense et al. 2008; Person et al. 2012; Howald et al. 2012; Pepin et al. 2015). In 2014, my lab acquired a magnetotelluric, audio-magnetotelluric (AMT), transient electromagnetic (TEM) system from Zonge International. Zonge International (http://zonge.com/). Along with Dr. Shari Kelley of the NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources and assistant professor Jesus Gomez-Velez, we are using these systems to study deep groundwater flow systems within fractured crystalline basement rocks along the Rio Grande Rift.

I have been actively involved in developing new hydrologic models that reconstruct groundwater flow system during the geologic past. Early in my career, my graduate students and I developed RIFT2D (Wieck et al. 1995; Mailloux et al. 1999), a Fortran based groundwater flow code which simulates basin evolution (i.e. sedimentation, subsidence, erosion) along with heat and solute transport within evolving continental rift basins. More recently, Denis Cohen, Peng Wang and I developed PGEOFE. This three-dimensional groundwater flow model is parallel and represents variable-density groundwater flow, heat and solute transport over geologic time scales. We used this model to simulate the emplacement of freshwater in continental shelf environments in New England during periods of glaciations (Cohen et al. 2009). Currently I am developing a control volume finite element model with professor Vaughan Voller at the University of Minnesota and Yipeng Zhang (doctoral student). We are using this hydromechanical code to study the effects of ice sheet loading on groundwater flow and rock failure/permeability increases during the Pleistocene glaciations.