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John Bredehoeft (1933-2023)

The hydrogeology community has lost a giant in our field. Dr. John D. Bredehoeft passed away on January 1, 2023. He was 89.

John was a pioneering quantitative hydrogeologist who consistently pushed the frontiers of groundwater science—both in terms of theoretical advances and practical applications. John’s contributions were multifaceted and spanned numerous disciplines. His interests and advances linked groundwater hydrology and hydrogeology with geophysics, geochemistry, tectonics, petroleum engineering, economics, radioactive waste disposal, and numerical methods. John has more than 100 peer-reviewed publications covering his numerous scientific contributions.

John received his undergraduate education at Princeton University, where his major was geological engineering. He received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Illinois. John’s background as a geology student and his Ph.D. research in Nevada fostered a strong belief in the value of field work and data to support theoretical advances in hydrogeology.

John was an incredible mentor, supporter, and friend responsible for the successful careers of numerous now-leading groundwater scientists. John saw potential in young graduate students and early career scientists that they perhaps didn’t realize they had—and strove to steer them in directions that let them each grow and excel by developing and applying their own talents.

John received many honors and awards, including the Meinzer Award and Penrose Medal from the Geological Society of America, the Horton Medal from AGU, the M. King Hubbert Award from NGWA, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

John is survived by his wife, Beth Garbutt, and his four children, John F., Martha, Paul, and Chris. His numerous friends, colleagues, students, and collaborators from his long career (including 32+ years with the USGS and about 25 years as a private consultant) will also miss him dearly. John Bredehoeft leaves a large legacy.

(Photo courtesy of M Clemensen)

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