Margaret Shanafield


I am passionate about understanding how water flows in natural systems, how we use water, and how we can get clean water to those who need it- here in Australia and across the globe. Currently, I am a Senior Researcher at Flinders University, funded by the Australian Research Council (DECRA) to develop a better understanding catchment processes (streamflow generation, streambed infiltration and groundwater recharge, evapotranspiration) in intermittent stream systems. with over 15 years of experience in water resources. I routinely do both fieldwork (especially surface water groundwater interactions) and computer modelling, and enjoy developing novel field tools.



Dec 2010 to present
Flinders University

Researcher and Lecturer

I began as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training. I have been primary and co-supervisor for multiple PhD, masters, and undergraduate students.  I have developed and taught the soil hydrology topics (3) and contributed to additional topics. I have won an Australian Research Council grant that currently supports me, and contributed to multiple other projects.

May 2018

Expert Mission 

Evaluated the project, “Enhancing Surface and Groundwater Management Competencies by Analyzing Radioactive and other Chemical/Toxic Contaminants”, Vientiane, Lao. Developed SOPs for field equipment and taught in-country participants to use the equipment.

2007 to nov 2010
Desert Research Institute

Research Assistant

Completed PhD research. Contributed to additional projects, including the development of a transmission loss model for the Truckee River and an evaluation of LA-PAM for sealing irrigation canals.

2004 - 2005 
Stillwater Sciences


Contributed to hydroelectric relicensing application projects, especially for the McKenzie River, Oregon. Collected, analysed and reported on water quality, aquatic wildlife, and ecosystem services data.

COSI - Community Self-Improvement

Volunteer Hydrologist

Worked in Sri Lankan consulting company/NGO delivering water supply solutions to rural communities. Subsequently co-authored a book chapter analysing the development approach embraced by this organisation.

Grants,Fellowships, and Awards

Flinders University DVCR Post-fellowship salary support (2020) Two year award.

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) (2015-2018), Award amount $357,170

Mawson Lakes Fellowship Program (2018), Australian-Japanese Comparative Analysis of Urban Water-Food-Energy Security Nexus, Award amount $20,000

Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme (DAAD) Surface water groundwater interaction in urban areas (2015), Award amount $25,000

Vice-chancellor’s Award for Early Career Researchers, Flinders University (2014), Award amount $2500

Director’s Award, National Centre for  Groundwater Research and Training (2012)

U.S. Civilian Research Defense Fund, Impact of lining canals and afforestation on groundwater (2010), Award amount $78,000

George Burke Maxey Award  in Water Research (paper competition)  (2010), Amount:  $1000

Second Place, Student Poster Competition, Nevada Water Resources Association conference (2009)

George Burke Maxey Hydrology Fellowship, Desert Research Institute (2008) Award amount $18,000

U.S. Student Representative to the Meeting of the Nobel Laureates in Physics, Lindau, Germany (2008)

First Place, Student Poster Competition, American Institute of Hydrology annual conference (2007)

NATO Science for Peace Grant (2006) assisted in grant writing & interviewing process.  Amount: €300,000

Fulbright student fellow (Uzbekistan) (2005)


PhD Hydrogeology (2010), University of Nevada Reno. ‘Spatial and Temporal variation in seepage from unlined channels’

Student Fulbright Fellow (2006), Uzbekistan

M.Sc. Hydrology (2004), University of Nevada Reno.   ‘Water clarity in Lake Tahoe’

B.A. Environmental Science (Minor in German) (2000), Northwestern University

In the Media

Shanafield, M., et al. (2020), Science gets up to speed on dry rivers, Eos, 101,  Published on 13 February 2020.

Network Ten Australian children science program “Scope”: feature on understanding stream dynamics in Season 4, Episode 71 Environmental Science (at 10'45")

Temporary Rivers: Unlocking their Secrets” Flinders University ECR Spotlight, October 5, 2017 

EGU Water Underground Blog, 22 July, 2017. “Humanitarian Groundwater Project: Notes on motivations from the academic world”. 

Fibre optics from the rooftops, Flinders News, July 17, 2017.

Shining a light on women in STEM, Flinders News, August 15, 2016

Turning groundwater into wine”: Stories of Australian Science 2015, 

Scientist warns that the world is mining groundwater supplies unsustainably”,, May 21, 2014.

Recent  Publications

  1. Shanafield M, Banks EW, Arkwright JW, Hausner MB (2018) Fiberoptic sensing for environmental applications: Where we have come from and what is possible. Water Resources Research.
  2. Schaper JL, Posselt M, McCallum JL, Banks EW, Hoehne A, Meinikmann K, Shanafield MA, Batelaan O, Lewandowski J (2018) Hyporheic Exchange Controls Fate of Trace Organic Compounds in an Urban Stream. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(21):12285-94.
  3. Shanafield M, Cook PG, Simmons CT (2018) Towards quantifying the likelihood of water resource impacts from unconventional gas development. Groundwater.
  4. Banks EW, Shanafield MA, Noorduijn S., McCallum J, Lewandowski J, Batelaan O (2018) Active heat pulse sensing of 3-D-flow fields in streambeds. Earth Syst. Sci. 22(3): 1917-1929,
  5. Vu HM, Shanafield M, Batelaan O (2018) Flux dynamics at the groundwater-surface water interface in a tropical catchment. Limnologica 68:36-45.
  6. Cook PG, Miller A, Shanafield M, Simmons CT (2017) Predicting water resource impacts of unconventional gas using simple analytical equations. Groundwater, 55(3):387-398
  7. Rodríguez-Burgueño JE, Shanafield M, Ramírez-Hernández J (2017) Comparison of infiltration rates in the dry riverbed of the Colorado River Delta during environmental flows. Ecological Engineering, 106, pp.675-682
  8. Shanafield M, McCallum JL, Cook PG, Noorduijn, S (2017). Using basic metrics to analyze high-resolution temperature data in the subsurface. Hydrogeology Journal, 25(5):1501-1508
  9. Shanafield M, GutiérrezJurado H, RodríguezBurgueño JE, RamírezHernández J, Jarchow CJ, Nagler PL (2017) Shortand longterm evapotranspiration rates at ecological restoration sites along a large river receiving rare flow events. Hydrological Processes, 31(24):4328-4337
  10. McCallum JL, Shanafield M (2016) Residence times of stream-groundwater exchanges due to transient stream stage fluctuations. Water Resources Research, 52, doi:10.1002/2015WR017441
  11. Shanafield M, McCallum JL, Cook PG, Noorduijn S (2016) Variations on thermal transport modelling of subsurface temperatures using high resolution data. Advances in Water Resources, 89:1-9
  12. Xie Y, Cook PG, Shanafield M, Simmons CT, Zheng C (2016) Uncertainty of natural tracer methods for quantifying river–aquifer interaction in a large river. Journal of Hydrology, 535:135-147
  13. Leterme SC, Jendyk J, Hemraj DA, Newton K, Shanafield M (2015) Drought conditions and recovery in the Coorong wetland, South Australia in 1997-2013. Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science, 163:175-84
  14. Shanafield, M, Cook PG, Gutierrez-Jurado HA, Faux R, Cleverly J, Eamus D (2015) Field comparison of methods for estimating groundwater discharge by evaporation and evapotranspiration in an arid-zone playa. Journal of Hydrology, 527:1073-1083, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.06.003
  15. Irvine DJ, Cranswick RH, Simmons CT, Shanafield M, Lautz LK (2015) The effect of streambed heterogeneity on groundwatersurface water exchange fluxes inferred from temperature time series. Water Resources Research, 51(1):198-212
  16. Villeneuve S, Cook P, Shanafield M, Wood C, White N (2015) Groundwater recharge via infiltration through an ephemeral riverbed, central Australia. Journal of Arid Environments, 117:47-58

Let's work together.

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