Christopher Magirl


Chris Magirl is the Studies Chief at the USGS Arizona Water Science Center. The Water Science Center serves Arizona and the Nation collecting and disseminating high-quality hydrologic data and scientific interpretation, publishing dozens of USGS Series reports and peer-reviewed journal articles each year. The Center also provides critical hydrologic leadership, working with cooperating state, local, and federal agencies, tribes, and academic researchers.

From 2000–2015, Chris was a researcher and project chief at the USGS working on multiple projects involving fluvial geomorphology throughout the western United States. Chris has researched rapids of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and Cataract Canyon, the Elwha River dam-removal project, sediment production from Mount Rainier and other glaciated stratovolcanoes, and the interactions between geomorphology and aquatic ecology pertaining to salmon. Chris was closely involved with the USGS response to the March 22, 2014, Oso Landslide of Washington State.

Before joining the USGS, Chris was an engineer and R&D project manager with the Hewlett-Packard Company building color inkjet printers. As a youth, Chris was fascinated with fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, thunderstorms, flash floods, airplanes, rockets, and rivers. For over 25 years, Chris has been fortunate to enjoy fluid mechanics and thermodynamics in his professional research and engineering career. Chris is the inventor of 5 patents and has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers and reports (Google Scholar) on topics ranging from directional solidification, microscopic droplet ejection, landslides, debris flows, extreme rainfall events, extreme floods, to the hydraulics of rapids—it’s all fluid mechanics, just different scales and viscosities.


The University of Arizona, PhD, Hydrology (minor in geology) 2006
Purdue University, MS, Mechanical Engineering, 1992
The University of Arizona, BS, Aerospace Engineering, 1990


US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ, Studies Chief, 2015-present
US Geological Survey, Tacoma, WA, Research Hydrologist, 2008-2015
US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ, Hydrologist, 2000-2008
Tetra Tech, Inc, Tucson, AZ, Hydrologist, 2000
Hewlett-Packard Company, San Diego, CA, Project Manager and Engineer, 1992-1999