Hydrogeology developed as scientists undertook activities to describe how a groundwater system functions to explain why it is that way, in order to solve practical problems of water supply. This paper demonstrates the evolutionary nature and growth of hydrogeology in the United States on the basis of a selection of one hundred papers that had a significant impact on subsequent activities. We have identified three revolutionary concepts that resulted directly from this evolutionary understanding and have selected papers that demonstrate important consequences. These three concepts are 1) that the mathematical expression for heat flow can be paraphrased for groundwater and used in transient flow conditions to determine aquifer characteristics; 2) that the distribution of fluid potential can be formulated in mathematical equations suitable for solution by various analytical techniques; and 3) that chemical thermodynamics can be applied to hydrogeologic systems in order to understand the processes controlling the chemical character of groundwater. One purpose of this paper is to encourage scientists to gain an additional dimension of satisfaction from their work by being aware of the contributions of those who went before them and to see how their own work fits into the current understanding of hydrogeology.
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American hydrogeology at the millennium: An annotated chronology of 100 most influential papers