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Katherine Skalak

Research Hydrologist

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Short Biography

Dr. Katherine Skalak studies landscape dynamics and fluvial geomorphology, focused on understanding and predicting changes in the patterns and functions of landforms in response to human impacts and restoration efforts.  In particular, dynamics of fine sediment and particle associated nutrients and contaminants on varying temporal and spatial scales, and management effects on fluvial systems.

Dr. Skalak received her undergraduate degree in environmental science from St. Joseph’s University.  She received her master’s degree in Geology from University of Delaware in 2004. A National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow, she completed her Ph.D in Geological Sciences from the University of Delaware in 2009. She started as a post-doctoral researcher at U.S. Geological Survey in 2009 and became a Research Hydrologist in 2011.

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Skalak, K. J., Engle, M. A., Rowan, E. L., Jolly, G. D., Conko, K. M., Benthem, A. J., & Kraemer, T. F. 2014. Surface disposal of produced waters in western and central Pennsylvania: Potential for accumulation of alkali-earth elements in sediments. International Journal of Coal Geology.

Skalak, K. and Pizzuto, J. "Reconstructing suspended sediment mercury contamination of a steep, gravel-bed river using reservoir theory."Environmental Geosciences 20.1 (2014): 17-35.

Skalak, K. J., Benthem, A. J., Schenk, E. R., Hupp, C. R., Galloway, J. M., Nustad, R. A., & Wiche, G. J. 2013. Large dams and alluvial rivers in the Anthropocene: The impacts of the Garrison and Oahe Dams on the Upper Missouri River. Anthropocene.

Skalak, K. Pizzuto, J., Egan, J., Allmendinger, N. 2011. The Geomorphic Effects of Existing Dams and Historic Dam Removals in the mid-Atlantic Region, USA. In Sediment Dynamics Following Dam Removal. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) monograph.

Flanders, J.R., Turner, R.R., Morrison, T., Jensen, R., Pizzuto, J., Skalak, K., and Stahl, R. 2010. Behavior, distribution, and transport of inorganic and methyl mercury in a high gradient stream. Applied Geochemistry, 25:11. 1756-1769.

Skalak, K., and Pizzuto, J. 2010. The distribution and residence time of suspended sediment stored within the channel margins of a gravel-bed bedrock river. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1926.

Skalak, K., Pizzuto, J., and Hart, D. 2009. Influence of small dams on downstream channel characteristics in Pennsylvania and Maryland: implications for the longterm geomorphic effects of dam removal. Journal of American Water Resources Association 5(1): 97-109.

Skalak, K. and Pizzuto, J. 2005. The Geomorphic Effects of Existing Dams and HistoricDam Removals in the mid-Atlantic Region, USA. "Managing Watersheds for Human and Natural Impacts: Engineering, Ecological, and Economic Challenges" EWRI & ASCE, Proceedings.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Hydrologic Processessediment transport
Hydrologic Processeshydrodynamics
Hydrologic Processeshydrology
Geologic Processessedimentation
Geologic Processeserosion
Hydrologic Processesstreamflow
Ecology and Environmentaquatic ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentfreshwater ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentwetlands

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Geomorphology and Landscape Dynamics

Image of Current Focus for Geomorphology and Landscape Dynamics


       I apply a geomorphic perspective to environmental problems.  I am interested in hydrologic and landscape dynamics and my research aims to understand and predict changes in the patterns and functions of landscapes in response to anthropogenic effects and restoration efforts.  My work examines the complex interactions between geomorphology, hydrology and ecology that control particle dynamics (sediment, organic matter, dissolved and particle-associated nutrients and contaminants) in flowing aquatic environments at varying temporal and spatial scales.  

      Current research:

Assessing residence times and sources of stored sediment in rivers over multiple temporal and spatial scales.

Effects of dam management and flooding on the Missouri River.

Effects of unconventional oil and gas development in surface waters and sediments.



Contact Information

Katherine Skalak
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr
Reston, VA 20192
703-648-5484 - Fax
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