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Van Tuyl Lecture: Ken Belitz, USGS

April 20, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Ken Belitz, United States Geological Survey, GSA’s Hydrogeology Division’s Distinguished Birdsall-Dress Lecturer for 2023

Berthoud 241/ Zoom, 4PM, Thursday, April 20, 2023

Old Problems, New Approach: Applications of Ensemble-Tree Machine Learning to Hydrogeology

Abstract: Ensemble tree modeling is a machine learning method well suited for representing complex non-linear phenomena. As such, ensemble tree modeling can be applied to a wide range of questions in hydrogeology, including questions related to hydrogeologic mapping.  Some questions are problems of regression in which one seeks an estimate of a continuous variable.  For example, what is the depth to the water table across a region of interest? Other questions are problems of classification.  For example, across a region of interest and over a range of depths, is groundwater oxic or reduced?

The U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment project (NAWQA) has used ensemble tree methods to address questions related to groundwater quality at regional and national scales. Some of our models evaluate the three-dimensional distribution of factors that can affect groundwater quality, such as pH, redox, and groundwater age. In turn, the modeled factors were used in subsequent models to map the three-dimensional distribution of contaminant concentrations. In our experience, ensemble tree models are a powerful tool for answering difficult questions. They can be used as a complement to process-based modeling and to make predictions at scales that preclude the use of process-based approaches.

This lecture is scheduled in a hybrid format. If you would like to join the meeting please:

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:
Meeting ID: 950 6627 4153
Password: 577584

The Van Tuyl lectures are scheduled at 4-5pm in BE 241/ Zoom (hybrid format), and after the lecture there will be a get-together from 5-6pm in BE 243 with pizza and sodas.

About 2023 Lecture – Hydrogeology Division (


About 2023 Lecture – Hydrogeology Division

2023 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. Kenneth Belitz is a Research Hydrologist in the Water Resources Mission Area of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). He received his B.A. in Geology from Binghamton University, and Ph.D. in hydrogeology from Stanford University in 1985.



April 20, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Berthoud Hall
1516 Illinois St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States
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