Mark Person

Professor and Hydrology Program Head
phone: 575-835-7578 (office), 575-517-7578 (cell)


Ph.D.: Johns Hopkins, 1990

MSc. Hydrology, New Mexico Tech, 1984

BA, Geology, Franklin & Marshal College, 1980
CV: Person_CV


Mark Person (left), Jesus Gomez-Velez (center) and Anastasia Stroujkova (right) of Weston Geophysical conducting a DC resistivity survey during an pumping test within a granite quarry, Twin Mountains, NH, July, 2017.


H510 Quantitative Methods in Hydrology: This class provides students with an introduction to analytical and numerical methods used in the hydrologic sciences. We will begin by considering relatively simple descriptions of hydrologic systems using ordinary differential equations (ODEs) where the independent variable is either space (x) or time (t). Building on what you learned in calculus, we will find both analytical and numerical solutions to these ODEs. Next we will consider more complicated hydrologic systems involving two independent variables (either x & z or x & t). These are described using partial differential equations (PDEs). We will find both analytical and numerical solutions to the PDEs.

HYD 547 Hydrological Modeling: Introduction to the finite difference (FD), finite element (FE), and Control Volume finite element methods applied to groundwater flow, heat and solute transport equations in two- (2D) and three- (3D) spatial dimensions. Analysis and synthesis of hydrologic data using mathematical modeling. Topics covered include model conceptualization and parameterization, model verification, model validation, and model prediction. Students will be exposed to the following modeling packages: MATLAB and MODFLOW. Students will be expected to develop MATLAB programs to solve a variety of simple 2D finite element and finite difference approximations of flow and transport problems.

HYD 516: Geofluids: The Role of Groundwater in Geologic Processes: This class will explore different fluid flow impelling mechanisms within the earth’s crust to depths of 10 km. Topics covered would include the role of groundwater in petroleum generation/migration, overpressure/underpressure formation in sedimentary basins, hydrothermal ore deposit formation, contact metamorphism, geothermal systems, seismicity, slope failure, sediment transport, and glaciation.


Research Interests: Paleohydrology, low-temperature geothermal systems, induced seismicity, hydrogeophysics, and 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 ( 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.


Three-dimensional, high-performance hydrogeologic model of the New England continental shelf, USA used by Cohen et al. (2009) to estimate the volume of freshwater sequestered within permeable sand horizons during Pleistocene glaciations and sea level fluctuations (1300 cubic km). The bottom figure in the left panel shows the PGEOFE numerical grid (about 1.3 million nodes), hydrostratigraphic units (blue, green, red patterns), bathymetry (top figure), and the Laurentide ice sheet thickness (middle figure) 21,000 years ago. The center panel shows the hydrostratigraphic unit configuration along 7 cross-sectional transects through the model domain. The right panel shows the present-day computed salinity distribution. The models were calibrated to off-shore salinity profiles from a number of wells (cylinders).  


Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer, Geological Society of America, 1997

New Mexico Tech Distinguished Research Award, 2016


Editor, Geofluids, Blackwell-Wiley, 2011-2016

Active Grants

European Union Science Agency, €1.7M, 2017-2022, MACRAN: Topographically-driven meteoric groundwater – an important geomorphic agent. Dr. Aaron Micallef (PI), University of Malta, Mark Person (co-PI), NM Tech. This project focuses on understanding the role of groundwater as a geomorphic agent in continental shelf environments and the emplacement of submarine freshwater resources during Pleistocene sea-level low stands (, The study focuses on two study site offshore New Zealand (south Island) and near Malta. One specific goal of this project is to develop three-dimensional characterizations of the volume of sequestered freshwater on Malta’s continental shelf.

Keck Foundation, $1M, 2017-2020, Evolution of Crustal Paleofluid Systems, $1M, Peter Reiner, University of Arizona (PI), Mark Person (co-PI), NM Tech. This project focuses on the role of Geofluids (oil, methane, supercritical CO2, and saline brines) as an agent in the formation of world class uranium and copper deposits within the Paradox Basin, Utah.

Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), $630K, 2017-2020, Integration of Noble Gas and Seismic Measurements for Small Yield Event Discrimination and Yield Estimation: A Multidisciplinary Experimental Study. Anastasia Stroujkova (PI), Weston Geophysical. Mark Person and Jesus Gomez-Velez (co-PIs), New Mexico Tech. This multidisciplinary project focuses on characterizing gas migration (SF6) released above and below the water table in fractured granitic rocks as well as seismic wave propagation following the detonation of conventional explosives emplaced beneath the land surface.

National Science Foundation, $750K, Energize New Mexico, 2013-2018, William Michnere (PI), University of New Mexico; Mark Person & Shari Kelley (co-PIs), NM Tech. Our study focuses on characterizing deep, crystalline basement hosted low-temperature geothermal systems using magnetotelluric, audio magnetotelluric, and transient electromagnetic systesm as well as hydrothermal modeling. One outcome of this study has been the development of capabilities of NM Tech hydrologists to characterize the distribution of fresh to brackish water in arid sedimentary basins and fractured crystalline rocks.

Current Students

Yipeng Zhang, Ph.D. candidate

Jeff Pepin, Ph.D. candidate

Melinda Horne, MSc. candidate

Sofia Avendano, MSc. candidate (co-advised with Jesus Gomez-Velez)

Recent Graduates

Matt Folsom, MSc. 2017, ORMAT, Reno NV

John Ortiz, MSc. 2017, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Dr. Amy Jordan, Ph.D. 2016, Neptune LLC, Los Alamos NM

David Bulter, MSc. 2014, CH2M-Hill, Seattle WA


Matt Folsom and Shari Kelley collecting TEM sounding with Tularossa Basin, New Mexico.

Papers Cited

Bense V. F., M. Person (2006), Faults as conduit-barrier systems to fluid flow in siliciclastic sedimentary aquifers, Water Resources Research, 42, W05421, doi:10.1029/2005WR004480

Bense V. F., M. A. Person, K. Chaudhary, Y. You, N. Cremer, S. Simon (2008), Thermal anomalies indicate preferential flow along faults in unconsolidated sedimentary aquifers, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L24406, doi:10.1029/2008GL036017

Bense V. F., M. A. Person (2008), Transient hydrodynamics within intercratonic sedimentary basins during glacial cycles, J. Geophys. Res., 113, F04005, doi:10.1029/2007JF000969

Cohen, D., Person M. , Wang, P. Gable, C. Hutchinson, D., Marksamer, A. Dugan, B. Kooi, H. Groen, K., Lizarralde, D. and R. L. Evans, Origin and Extent of Fresh Paleowaters Beneath the Atlantic Continental Shelf, 2009, Groundwater, Volume 48 Issue 1, p. 143 – 158

DeFoor, W. Person, M., Larsen, H.C., Lizarralde, D. Cohen, D. and B. Dugan, 2011, Ice sheet–derived submarine groundwater discharge on Greenland’s continental shelf, Water Resources Research, doi:10.1029/2011WR010536

Howald T, Person M, Campbell A, Lueth V, Hofstra A, Sweetkind D, Gable CW, Banerjee A, Luijendijk E, Crossey L, Karlstrom K, Kelley S, and Phillips F, 2014. Evidence for Long-Time Scale ( > 103 years) Changes in Hydrothermal Activity Induced by Seismic Events, Geofluids, doi: 10.1111/gfl.12113.

Post, V. Groen, J., Kooi, H. Person, M., Ge, S. 2013, Review: Offshore fresh groundwater reserves – A global phenomenon, Nature, v. 504, p. 71-84, doi:10.1038/nature12858

Jordan, A, Stauffer, P, Zyvoloski, G, Person, M. MacCarthy J, and Anderson, D, 2014, Uncertainty in Prediction of Radionuclide Gas Migration from Underground Nuclear Explosions, Vadose Zone J. doi:10.2136/vzj2014.06.0070

Person, M. and G. Garven, 1992, Hydrologic constraints on petroleum generation within continental rift basins: Theory and application to the Rhine Graben, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 76, p. 468–488

Person, M., Toupin, D., and Eadington, P. J., 1995, One–dimensional models of groundwater flow, sediment thermal history, and petroleum generation within continental rift basins, Basin Research, v. 7, p. 81-96.

Person, M., Dugan, B., Swenson, J.B., Urbano, L., Sttot, C., Taylor, J., Willett, M., 2003, Pleistocene hydrogeology of the Atlantic continental shelf, New England, GSA Bulletin, v. 115. p. 1324-1343.

Person M., J. McIntosh, V. Bense, V. H. Remenda, 2007, Pleistocene hydrology of North America: The role of ice sheets in reorganizing groundwater flow systems, Rev. Geophys., 45, RG3007, doi:10.1029/2006RG000206

Person M. , Hofstra, A., Sweetkind, D, Stone, W., Cohen, D., Gable, C, Banerjee, A. 2012, Analytical and numerical models of hydrothermal fluid flow at fault intersections, Geofluids, v. 12, 312–326

Person, M. Butler, D., Gable, C. W., Villamil, T., Waverek, D., and D. Schelling, 2012, Hydrodynamic stagnation zones: A new play concept forthe Llanos Basin, Colombia, Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 96 no. 1 p. 23-41.

Pepin J, Person M, Phillips F, Kelley S, Timmons S, Witcher J, and Gable C, 2014, Deep Fluid Circulation within Crystalline Basement Rocks and the Role of Hydrologic Windows in the Formation of the Truth or Consequences, New Mexico Low-Temperature Geothermal System, Geofluids, doi: 10.1111/gfl.12111.

Zhang, Y., Person, M., Rupp, J., Ellet, K., Celia, M.A., Gable, C.W., Bowen, B., Evans, J., Bandilla, K., Mozley, P.S., Dewers, T., and Elliot, T., 2013, Hydrogeologic controls on induced seismicity in crystalline basement rocks due to fluid injection into basal reservoirs: Groundwater, v. 51, Issue 4, p. 525–538.

Zhang, Y., S. Edel, J. Pepin, M. Person, et al., “Exploring the potential linkages between oil‐field brine reinjection, crystalline basement permeability, and triggered seismicity for the Dagger Draw Oil field, doi: 10.1111/gfl.12199