Michael Cardiff

Position title: Associate Professor

Email: cardiff@wisc.edu

Phone: 608-262-2361

412 Weeks Hall
1215 Dayton Street

Michael Cardiff


The properties that control the flow, transport, and reactions in groundwater aquifers are heterogeneous at a range of scales — from individual pores to geologic unit assemblages — and this heterogeneity has often limited hydrogeologists’ ability to accurately predict groundwater flow and transport.

My interests lie in developing novel techniques to help us better understand aquifer heterogeneity, and in producing tools that aid in environmental decision-making. My research employs multi-physics numerical modeling, stochastic and Bayesian inference methods, optimization methods, and state-of-the-art hydrologic sensors and software in order to solve hydrogeologic problems.

Current Project Synopses

  • Adjoint Applications of Poroelastic Tomography “PoroTomo” (DOE): Integrating hydrologic, geophysical, and satellite data to improve models of geothermal reservoirs
  • Describing Connected Fracture Flow with Pressure Waves (Wisconsin DNR): Development of tools and analysis methodologies for understanding the geometry of flow conduits in fractures
  • Building a “Visible Fracture” to Assess Transport Characteristics of Heterogeneous Fractures (WARF): Producing educational and research tools for imaging flow and transport processes in a fracture with heterogeneous aperture
  • Nitrate Pilot Project (DNR): Using modeling and monitoring technologies to assess nitrate contributions to groundwater associated with agricultural practices. Helping communities to understand and manage nitrate loading.


Google Scholar | Scopus


I regularly teach the following classes in the department, many of which are cross-listed with UW–Madison’s Geological Engineering (GLE) program


  • GEOS / GLE-627: Hydrogeology (joint with Jean Bahr)
  • GEOS / GLE-875: MATLAB for Geoscientists
  • GEOS / GLE-724: Groundwater Flow Modeling


  • GEOS / GLE-106: Environmental Geology (Spring 2022)
  • GEOS / GLE-724: Groundwater Flow Modeling (Spring 2022)
  • GEOS / GLE-793: Geophysical Inverse Modeling (alternate years, jointly with Clifford Thurber)

Other seminar courses I have taught in the past, as interest arises, include:

  • GEOS-929: Advanced Flow Modeling Topics (last taught Fall 2015)
  • GEOS-875: Describing and Simulating Heterogeneity in the Subsurface (last taught Spring 2013)
  • GEOS-729: Field Applications in Hydrogeology (last taught Summer 2015)