Matthew A Thomas


I am an early career quantitative geoscientist excited to work on societally relevant earth science and engineering problems. My undergraduate work at UCLA (geology) and consulting experience in the San Francisco Bay Area (soils engineering) initially piqued my interest in geotechnics. Following this work, I enrolled as a MS and PhD candidate at Stanford, with a coursework focus in environmental fluid mechanics and research focus in hydrologically driven landsliding. My graduate work facilitated skillsets in numerical modeling, scientific programming, and geospatial analyses. I have also pursued applied geomorphology problems, using ground survey methods, remotely-sensed observations, and geomechanical simulation to evaluate human-timescale landscape change. As a hydrology team lead at Sandia National Laboratories, I worked on water quality problems, using inverse modeling to elucidate the impact of unconventional hydrocarbon exploration on groundwater resources in the vicinity of a radioactive waste facility. Presently, I combine my expertise in hydrology and geology as a Mendenhall Fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey. My research contributes to rainfall-induced landslide and post-wildfire debris flow hazard warning products that are designed to reduce loss of life and property.



2017 - Present    Research Hydrologist (Mendenhall), U.S. Geological Survey, Golden, CO

2015 - 2017         Senior Hydrologist, Sandia National Laboratories, Carlsbad, NM

2014 - 2015         Postdoctoral Research Hydrologist, Stanford University, Stanford, CA   

2014                    Geomorphology Technician (seasonal), U.S. National Park Service, Ashford, WA

2009 - 2014         Graduate Research Hydrologist, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2008 - 2009         Staff Geologist, Cornerstone Earth Group, Sunnyvale, CA

2006 - 2007         Geotechnical Laboratory Technician, Ralph Stone & Company, Inc., Los Angeles, CA

2006                    Geotechnical Intern, Lowney Associates, Mountain View, CA

2005                    Geotechnical Intern, Lownery Associates, Mountain View, CA



2009 - 2014        PhD in Hydrology; Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2012 - 2014        MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Stanford University, Stanford, CA

2004 - 2008        BS in Geology;  University of California, Los Angeles, CA



Thomas MA, Mirus BB, & Smith JB (in review) Evidence that soil-hydraulic properties can modulate utility of hydro-meteorological thresholds for rainfall-induced landsliding.

Thomas MA, Mota A, Jones BM, Choens RC, Frederick JM, & Bull DL (2020) Geometric and material variability influences stress states relevant to coastal permafrost bluff failure. Frontiers in Earth Science: Cryospheric Sciences.

Thomas MA, Collins BD, & Mirus BB (2019) Assessing the feasibility of satellite-based thresholds for hydrologically driven landsliding. Water Resources Research

Thomas MA & Cerovski-Darriau C (2019) Infiltration data collected post-Hurricane Maria across landslide source area materials, Puerto Rico, USA. U.S. Geological Survey Data Release,

Bessette-Kirton EK, Cerovski-Darriau C, Schulz WH, Coe JA, Kean JW, Godt JW, Thomas MA, & Hughes SK (2019) Landslides triggered by Hurricane Maria: An assessment of an extreme event in Puerto Rico. GSA Today.

Jones BM, Bull DL, Farquharson LM, Baughman CA, Arp CD, Grosse G, Guenther F, Urban F, Buzard RM, Kasper JL, Frederick JM, Thomas MA, Mota A, Dallimore S, McClelland JW, Tweedie C, Maio C, Mann DH, Douglas DC, Mahoney A, Alexeev V, Richmond B, Gibbs A, Xiao M, & Romanovsky VE (2018) A decade of remotely sensed observations highlight complex processes linked to coastal permafrost bluff erosion in the Arctic. Environmental Research Letters.

Thomas MA, Mirus BB, & Collins BD (2018) Identifying physics-based thresholds for rainfall-induced landsliding. Geophysical Research Letters.

Thomas MA, Mirus BB, Collins BD, Lu N, & Godt JW (2018) Variability in soil-water retention properties and implications for physics-based simulation of landslide early warning criteria. Landslides

Thomas MA, Collins BD, Lu N, Stock JD, Corbett SC, Schmidt KM, Reid ME, Mirus BB, Godt JW, and Coe JA (2017) Field data used to support numerical simulations of variably-saturated flow focused on variability in soil-water retention properties for the U.S. Geological Survey Bay Area Landslide Type (BALT) Site #1 in the East Bay region of California, USA. U.S. Geological Survey Data Release,

Thomas MA, Kuhlman KL, & Ward AL (2017) Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository. Hydrological Processes

Frederick JM, Thomas MA, Bull D, Jones CA, & Roberts JD (2016) The Arctic coastal erosion problem. SAND Technical Report Series

Thomas MA & Loague K (2016) Landscape change as recorded by the Ocean Shore Railroad. Environmental and Engineering Geoscience

Thomas MA & Kennard P (2015) Topographic and hydrologic insight for the Westside Road problem. Natural Resource Technical Report Series

Thomas MA, Loague K, & Voss CI (2015) Fluid pressure responses for a Devil's Slide-like system: problem formulation and simulation. Hydrological Processes

Thomas MA & Loague K (2014) Hydrogeologic insights for a Devil's Slide-like system. Water Resources Research

Pettit MM, Thomas MA, & Loague K (2014) Retreat of a coastal bluff in Pacifica, California. Environmental and Engineering Geoscience

Thomas MA & Loague K (2014) Devil’s Slide: An evolving feature of California’s coastal landscape. Environmental and Engineering Geoscience