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Ken Bradbury


Affiliated Faculty

Ken Bradbury

Director and State Geologist

Contact: Phone (608) 263-7921 | Email ken.bradbury@wisc.edu

Research interests

As the Director and State Geologist, my role in the research of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey is to make sure that we link our studies to the practical needs of Wisconsin’s citizens, management/regulatory agencies, industry, and the environmental consulting community. At the WGNHS, we propose and carry out geologic investigations that have specific practical goals (such as tracing natural toxins in our rock formations, building a groundwater model for Dane County, or sorting out the source of viruses in drinking water), but each project contains a research component. The research component lets us bring the benefits of the University to the people of the state—the essence of the Wisconsin Idea.

Before I became the Director and State Geologist, the main thrust of my work had been to better understand how to characterize and model fractured aquifers and how to determine groundwater flow paths near water-supply wells developed in fractured aquifers. My areas of research included studying how groundwater moves through fractured rock, viruses in groundwater systems, regional hydrogeology of Wisconsin, wellhead protection, and groundwater recharge.

Current projects

  • Understanding the presence and transport of viruses in groundwater
  • Developing a groundwater flow model for the Little Plover River area in Portage County, WI
  • Construction of a groundwater flow model for Dane County, Wisconsin
  • Effects of unsewered subdivisions on groundwater
  • Simulation of groundwater flow to the Mink River estuary, Door County, Wisconsin
  • Hydrogeology of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, northern Wisconsin


As an adjunct faculty member, I collaborate with faculty and students in the Hydrogeology Group in the Department of Geoscience, UW–Madison.

I work frequently with colleagues in the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center, Middleton, Wisconsin.

On occasion, I co-teach short courses/workshops for the Midwest Geosciences Group. Courses include Advances in hydrogeologic analysis of fractured bedrock systems and Assessing groundwater movement and contaminant migration through aquitards: Hydrogeologic characterization and investigative techniques.

Selected publications

Publications available to download

Viruses in groundwater

Hydrogeology of fractured rocks

  • Gellasch, C.A., Wang, H.F., Bradbury, K.R., Bahr, J.M., and Lande, L.L., 2013, Reverse water-level fluctuations associated with fracture connectivity: Groundwater, DOI: 10.1111/gwat.12040.
  • Gellasch, C.A., Bradbury, K.R., Hart, D.J., Bahr, J.M., 2012, Characterization of fracture connectivity in a siliciclastic bedrock aquifer near a public supply well (Wisconsin, USA): Hydrogeology J, 2012, p. 1–17.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Runkel, A.C., 2011, Recent advances in the hydrostratigraphy of Paleozoic bedrock in the midwestern United States: GSA Today, v.21, no. 9. p. 10–12.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Batten, W.G., 2010. Groundwater susceptibility maps, diagrams, and report for the Town of Byron, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Open-File Report 2010-02.
  • Muldoon, M.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2010, Assessing seasonal variations in recharge and water quality in the Silurian aquifer in areas with thicker soil cover: Final report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 45 p.
  • Bradbury, K.R. and Cobb, M.K., 2008. Delineation of areas contributing groundwater to springs and wetlands supporting the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Door County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Open-File Report 2008-04, 17 p. + 17 color p.
  • Eaton, T.T, Anderson, M.P., and Bradbury, K.R., 2007. Fracture control of ground water flow and water chemistry in a rock aquitard: Ground Water, v. 45, no. 5., p. 601–615.
  • Muldoon, M.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2005, Site characterization in densely fractured dolomite: Comparison of methods: Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, p. 863–876.
  • Bradbury, K.R., 2003, A circuitous path: Protecting groundwater in Wisconsin: Geotimes, v. 48, no. 4, p. 18–21.
  • Eaton, T.T., and Bradbury, K.R., 2003, Hydraulic transience and the role of bedding fractures in a bedrock aquitard, southeastern Wisconsin, USA: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 30, no. 18, doi:10.1029/2003GL017913.
  • Bradbury, K.R., 2002, How important are horizontal fractures? : International Groundwater Modeling Center Newsletter, v. XX, issue 1, p. 4. [Article in Adobe® Acrobat® PDF format.]
  • Muldoon, M.A., Simo, J.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2002, Correlation of hydraulic conductivity with stratigraphy in a fractured-dolomite aquifer, northeastern Wisconsin, USA: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 9, p. 570–583.
  • Rayne, T.W., Bradbury, K.R., and Muldoon, M.A., 2001, Delineation of capture zones for municipal wells in fractured dolomite, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 9, p. 432–450.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Muldoon, M.A., 1994, Effects of fracture density and anisotropy on delineation of wellhead protection areas in fractured-rock aquifers: Journal of Applied Hydrogeology, 3/94, p. 17-23.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Rothschild, E.R., A computerized technique for estimating the hydraulic conductivity of aquifers from specific capacity data: Ground Water, v. 23, no. 2, p. 240–246. [Article in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.]

Regional hydrogeology of Wisconsin

Groundwater flow and transport

Groundwater recharge

  • Dripps, W.R., and Bradbury, K.R., 2010. The spatial and temporal variability of groundwater recharge in a forested basin in northern Wisconsin. Hydrological Processes, 24, 383-392.
  • Westenbroek, S., Kelson, V., Dripps, W., Hunt, R. and Bradbury, K., 2009, SWB – A modified Thornthwaite-Mather soil-water-balance code for estimating groundwater recharge: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, 6-A31, 67 p.
  • Hart, D.J., Schoephoester, P., and Bradbury, K.R., 2008. Groundwater recharge in southeastern Wisconsin estimated by a GIS-based water-balance model. Technical Report 47, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. 23 p.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Hunt, R.J., and Rayne, T.W., 2005, Are recharge-area maps useful for land-use planning in humid settings?: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 37, no 7.
  • Stoertz, M.W., and Bradbury, K.R., 1989, Mapping recharge areas using a ground-water flow model—A case study: Ground Water, v. 27, no. 2, p. 220–228.

Selected professional activities

  • Fellow, Geological Society of America
  • Member, National Groundwater Association
  • Member, Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council
  • Member, Association of American State Geologists
  • Member, Groundwater Research Advisory Council, University of Wisconsin
  • Member, Wisconsin State Natural Areas Council
  • Member, International Association of Hydrogeologists
  • Former member, Water Science and Technology Board, National Research Council


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