Donald Sweetkind


I am a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, stationed in Lakewood, CO.  I received my Ph.D. in geology from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO in 1994 and have worked full-time as a geologist for the USGS in Denver since then.

Early in my career, I spent five years working as part of the USGS Yucca Mountain Project, conducting surface and subsurface geologic mapping and structural geologic studies at the Yucca Mountain, NV site. After Yucca Mountain, I moved to the USGS Central Region Minerals Resources Science Center where from 2000 to 2013 I conducted mapping, stratigraphic, and structural geologic studies focused on understanding geologic controls on fluid flow in the Great Basin. In the past decade, I have been the lead within USGS Geologic Discipline with work on several major water resource-related projects in Nevada, Utah, and California, in collaboration with colleagues in the USGS Water Mission Area. Work has involved making geologic maps, cross sections and three-dimensional geologic framework models to help understand geologic controls on groundwater flow. I also conduct geologic mapping studies in California with USGS staff in Menlo Park; I have worked on the evolution of volcanic fields and sedimentary basins in response to the development through time of the San Andreas and related faults. I have also used subsurface geologic mapping to address groundwater-based issues in northern and central California.  

Current research projects

Geologic controls on hydrology in Sacramento Valley and other basins, California.  We are developing a digital 3D geologic map framework of groundwater aquifers in Sacramento Valley and creating geologic maps of surrounding bedrock uplands. (Project chief: Vicki Langenheim, USGS Menlo Park; funding, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program).

Groundwater availability studies in several California groundwater basins. I am creating digital 3D hydrogeologic framework models that portray the geometry and lithologic variability (a proxy for inferring hydraulic properties) of hydrostratigraphic units, and define location and character of fault zones for input into numerical ground-water flow models. (work conducted with USGS CA WSC).

Understanding geologic controls on groundwater flow, Nevada Nuclear Security Site. I am interpreting subsurface geologic controls on groundwater flow paths to develop a conceptual understanding of the multi-aquifer systems within complexly layered volcanic rocks at Pahute Mesa on the (formerly named) Nevada Test Site (work conducted with USGS CA WSC).