Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Engineering (ME)


Geological Engineering

Committee Chair

Glenn Shaw

First Advisor

Christopher Gammons

Second Advisor

Beverly Karplus Hartline

Third Advisor

Andrew Bobst


Environmental samples were collected at three surface water sites between 5/21/2011 and 11/21/2014 along the Upper Boulder River near Boulder Montana. The sites were located at Bernice (within the mountain block), near the High Ore drainage (near the mountain block/basin transition), and at the USGS Gauging Station near Boulder, Montana (within the basin). The parameters measured in the field were SC, temperature, and alkalinity with occasional pH measurements. We collected samples for anions, cations, and stable isotopes in the catchment. We identified endmembers by sampling snow and groundwater and determined from available data an approximate endmember for rain, snow, and groundwater. We used temporal and spatial variations of water chemistry and isotopes to generate an endmember mixing model. Groundwater was found to always be an important contributor to river flow and could increase by nearly an order of magnitude during large snowmelt events. This resulted in groundwater comprising ~20% of total river flow during snowmelt at all sites. At peak snowmelt we observed that near surface water contributions to the river were from a mixture of rain and snow. Soil water, though not sampled, was hypothesized to be an important part of the hydrologic story. If so, the endmember contributions determined in this study may be different. Groundwater may have the highest variation depending on water chemistry of shallow soil water.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Hydrogeological Engineering