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Ken Bradbury


  • Department of Extension Faculty
    Division of Extension
    University of Wisconsin–Madison

Affiliated Faculty

Ken Bradbury

Director and State Geologist

Contact: Phone (608) 263-7921 | Email ken.bradbury@wisc.edu

As the Director and State Geologist, my role in the research of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey is to make sure that we link our studies to the practical needs of Wisconsin’s citizens, management/regulatory agencies, industry, and the environmental consulting community. At WGNHS, we propose and carry out geologic investigations that have specific practical goals (such as tracing natural toxins in our rock formations, building a groundwater model for central Wisconsin, or sorting out the source of contaminants in drinking water), but each project contains a research component. The research component lets us bring the benefits of the University to the people of the state—the essence of the Wisconsin Idea.

Before I became the Director and State Geologist, the main thrust of my work had been to better understand how to characterize and model fractured aquifers and to determine groundwater flow paths near water-supply wells developed in such aquifers. My areas of research include studying how groundwater moves through fractured rock, viruses in groundwater systems, regional hydrogeology of Wisconsin, wellhead protection, and groundwater recharge.

Recent projects

  • The Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study. This project investigates groundwater quality in private wells in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties, and seeks to understand overall groundwater quality concerns and the sources of contamination.
  • Wellhead protection and nitrate transport in groundwater.


My projects are also summarized in this interactive map:

Screenshot of Ken Bradbury's Projects map with a link to the actual interactive map

View interactive map

Read about my work



As an adjunct faculty member, I collaborate with faculty and students in the Hydrogeology Group in the Department of Geoscience, UW–Madison.

I work frequently with colleagues in the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center, Middleton, Wisconsin.

On occasion, I co-teach short courses/workshops for the Midwest Geosciences Group. Courses include Advances in hydrogeologic analysis of fractured bedrock systems and Assessing groundwater movement and contaminant migration through aquitards: Hydrogeologic characterization and investigative techniques.


Publications available to download

Viruses in groundwater

  • Hunt, R.J., Borchardt, M.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2014, Viruses as tracers: Using ecohydrology to characterize short travel times in aquifers: Groundwater, v. 52, no. 2, p. 187–193.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Borchardt, M.A., Gotkowitz, M., Spencer, S.K., Zhu, J., and Hunt, RJ., 2013. Source and transport of human enteric viruses in deep municipal water supply wells. Environmental Science & Technology, 47, (9), pp 4096-4103.
  • Borchardt, M. A., Bradbury, K.R., Alexander Jr., E. Calvin, Kolberg, R.J., Alexander, S.C., Archer, J.R., Braatz, L.A., Forest, B.M., Green, J.A., and Spencer, S.K., 2011. Norovirus outbreak caused by a new septic system in a dolomite aquifer. Ground Water, Vol. 49, No.1, p. 85–97.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Borchardt, M.A., and Gotkowitz, M., 2010. Human viruses as tracers of wastewater pathways into deep municipal wells. WGNHS Open-file report 2010-04. 40 p., https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000894/.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Borchardt, M.A., Gotkowitz, M., and Hunt, R.J., 2008. Assessment of virus presence and potential virus pathways in deep municipal wells. WGNHS Open-file report 2008-08. 48 p., https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000886/.
  • Borchardt, M. A.; Bradbury, K.R.; Gotkowitz, M. B.; Cherry, J. A.; Parker, B. L.. 2007. Human enteric viruses in groundwater from a confined bedrock aquifer. Environmental Science and Technology. 41(18); 6606-6612.


Hydrogeology of fractured rocks

  • Muldoon, M.A., and K.R. Bradbury. 2019. Assessing Seasonal Variations in Recharge and Water Quality in the Silurian Aquifer in Areas with Thicker Soil Cover.  Open-File Report WOFR2019-04.  Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey.  38 pages + appendices. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/wofr201904/.
  • Gellasch, C.A., Wang, H.F., Bradbury, K.R., Bahr, J.M., and Lande, L.L., 2013, Reverse water-level fluctuations associated with fracture connectivity: Groundwater, https://doi.org/10.1111/gwat.12040.
  • Gellasch, C.A., Bradbury, K.R., Hart, D.J., Bahr, J.M., 2012, Characterization of fracture connectivity in a siliciclastic bedrock aquifer near a public supply well (Wisconsin, USA): Hydrogeology J, 2012, p. 1–17.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Runkel, A.C., 2011, Recent advances in the hydrostratigraphy of Paleozoic bedrock in the midwestern United States: GSA Today, v.21, no. 9. p. 10–12.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Batten, W.G., 2010. Groundwater susceptibility maps, diagrams, and report for the Town of Byron, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Open-File Report 2010-02.
  • Muldoon, M.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2010, Assessing seasonal variations in recharge and water quality in the Silurian aquifer in areas with thicker soil cover: Final report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 45 p.
  • Bradbury, K.R. and Cobb, M.K., 2008. Delineation of areas contributing groundwater to springs and wetlands supporting the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Door County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Open-File Report 2008-04, 17 p. + 17 color p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000883/.
  • Eaton, T.T, Anderson, M.P., and Bradbury, K.R., 2007. Fracture control of ground water flow and water chemistry in a rock aquitard: Ground Water, v. 45, no. 5., p. 601–615.
  • Muldoon, M.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2005, Site characterization in densely fractured dolomite: Comparison of methods: Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, p. 863–876.
  • Bradbury, K.R., 2003, A circuitous path: Protecting groundwater in Wisconsin: Geotimes, v. 48, no. 4, p. 18–21.
  • Eaton, T.T., and Bradbury, K.R., 2003, Hydraulic transience and the role of bedding fractures in a bedrock aquitard, southeastern Wisconsin, USA: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 30, no. 18, https://doi.org/10.1029/2003GL017913.
  • Bradbury, K.R., 2002, How important are horizontal fractures? : International Groundwater Modeling Center Newsletter, v. XX, issue 1, p. 4.
  • Muldoon, M.A., Simo, J.A., and Bradbury, K.R., 2002, Correlation of hydraulic conductivity with stratigraphy in a fractured-dolomite aquifer, northeastern Wisconsin, USA: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 9, p. 570–583.
  • Rayne, T.W., Bradbury, K.R., and Muldoon, M.A., 2001, Delineation of capture zones for municipal wells in fractured dolomite, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA: Hydrogeology Journal, v. 9, p. 432–450.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Muldoon, M.A., 1994, Effects of fracture density and anisotropy on delineation of wellhead protection areas in fractured-rock aquifers: Journal of Applied Hydrogeology, 3/94, p. 17-23.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Rothschild, E.R., A computerized technique for estimating the hydraulic conductivity of aquifers from specific capacity data: Ground Water, v. 23, no. 2, p. 240–246.


Regional hydrogeology of Wisconsin

  • Graham, G.E., Fehling, A.C., Gotkowitz, M.B., Bradbury, K.R. 2019. Hydrogeologic atlas of Bayfield County. WGNHS Technical report TR005.  25 pages + 2 appendices. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000967/.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Leaf, A.T., Hunt, R.J., Juckem, P.F., Fehling, A.C., Mauel, S.W., Schoephoester, P.R., 2018. Characterization of Groundwater Resources in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin: Medford Unit.  WGNHS technical Report TR004-1. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/tr0041/.
  • Fehling, A.C., Leaf, A.T., Bradbury, K.R., Hunt R.J., Mauel, S.W., Schoephoester, P.R., Juckem, P.F., 2018. Characterization of Groundwater Resources in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin: Nicolet Unit. WGNHS Technical Report TR004-2. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/tr0042/.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Hunt, R.J., Pruitt, A., Juckem, P.F., Schoephoester, P.R., Mauel, S.W., Fehling, A.C., 2018. Characterization of Groundwater Resources in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin: Park Falls Unit.  WGNHS Technical Report TR004-3. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/tr0043/.
  • Fehling, A.C., Bradbury, K.R., Leaf, A.T., Pruitt, A., Hunt, R.J., Mauel, S.W., Schoephoester, P.R., Juckem, P.F.. 2018. Characterization of Groundwater Resources in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin: Washburn/Great Divide Unit.  WGNHS Technical report TR004-4. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/tr0044/.
  • Bradbury, K.R., M.N. Fienen, M.L. Kniffin, J.J. Krause, S.M. Westenbroek, A.T. Leaf, and P.M.Barlow. 2017. A groundwater flow model for the Little Plover River in Wisconsin’s Central Sands.  Bulletin 111.  Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, 82 p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/b111/.
  • Parsen, M.J., K.R. Bradbury, R.J. Hunt, and D. T. Feinstein.   The 2016 groundwater flow model for Dane County, Wisconsin.  Bulletin 110, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, 56 p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/b110/.
  • Swanson, S.K., Bradbury, K.R., and Hart, D.J., 2009. Assessing the vulnerability of spring systems to groundwater withdrawals in southern Wisconsin. Geoscience Wisconsin, vol. 20, part 1. Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. 14 p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/gs20a01/.
  • Hart, D.J., Bradbury, K.R., and Feinstein, D.T., 2006, The vertical hydraulic conductivity of an aquitard at two spatial scales: Ground Water, v. 44, no 2, p. 201-211.
  • Swanson, S.K., Bahr, J.M., Bradbury, K.R., and Anderson, K.M., 2006, Evidence for preferential flow through sandstone aquifers in southern Wisconsin: Sedimentary Geology, v. 184, p. 331–342.
  • Feinstein, D.T., Eaton, T.T., Hart, D.J., Krohelski, J.T., and Bradbury, K.R., 2005, A regional simulation model for southeastern Wisconsin. Report 1: Data collection, conceptual model development, numerical model construction, and model calibration, Report 2: Model results and interpretation: Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Technical Report 41. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000835/.
  • Lathrop, Richard, Bradbury, Kenneth, Halverson, Bruce, Potter, Kenneth, and Taylor, David, 2005, Responses to urbanization: Groundwater, stream flow, and lake level responses to urbanization in the Yahara Lakes basin: LakeLine, v. 25, no. 4.
  • Wilcox, J.D., Bradbury, K.R., Bahr, J.M., and Thomas, C.L., 2005, Assessing background ground water chemistry beneath a new unsewered subdivision: Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, p. 787–795.
  • Hunt, R.J., Bradbury, K.R., and Krohelski, J.T., 2001, The effects of large-scale pumping and diversion on the water resources of Dane County, Wisconsin: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-127-01, 4 p.
  • Krohelski, J.T., Bradbury, K.R., Hunt, R.J., and Swanson, S.K., 2000, Numerical model of groundwater flow in Dane County, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 98, 31 p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000122/.
  • Bradbury, K.R., 1991, Tritium as an indicator of ground-water age in central Wisconsin: Ground Water, v. 29, no. 3, p. 398–404.
  • Toran, Laura, and Bradbury, K.R., 1988, Ground-water flow model of drawdown and recovery near an underground mine: Ground Water, v. 26, no. 6, p. 724–733.
  • Bradbury, K.R., and Taylor, R.W., 1984, Determination of the hydrogeologic properties of lakebeds using offshore geophysical surveys: Ground Water, v. 22, no. 6, p. 690–695.


Groundwater flow and transport

  • Kniffin, M., K.R. Bradbury, M. Fienen, and K. Genskow. 2020. Groundwater model simulations of stakeholder-identified scenarios in a high-conflict irrigated area: Groundwater.  Published online at https://ngwa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/gwat.12989.
  • Rayne, T.W., K.R. Bradbury, and J.J. Krause. 2018. Impact of a rural subdivision on groundwater quality: Results of long-term monitoring. Groundwater: v. 57, no. 2, P. 279-291.
  • Fienen, M/N., K.R. Bradbury, M. Kniffin, and P.M. Barlow. 2017. Depletion mapping and constrained optimization to support managed groundwater extraction: Groundwater, v. 56, no. 1, p. 18-31.
  • Rayne, T.W., Bradbury, K.R., and Zheng, C., 2014, Correct delineation of capture zones using particle tracking under transient conditions: Groundwater, v. 52, no. 3, p. 332–334.
  • Gellasch, C.A., Wang, H.F., Bradbury, K.R., Bahr, J.M., and Lande, L.L., 2014, Reverse water-level fluctuations associated with fracture connectivity: Groundwater, 52, no. 1, p. 105–117.
  • Hooyer, T., Hart, D.J., Bradbury, K.R., and Batten, W.G., 2008. Investigating groundwater recharge to the Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer through fine-grained glacial deposits in the Fox River Valley. WGNHS Open-file report 2008-07. 48 p. https://wgnhs.wisc.edu/pubs/000885/.
  • Cherry, J.A., Parker, B.L., Bradbury, K.R., Gotkowitz, M.B., Eaton, T.T., Hart, D.J., Borchardt, M.A., 2007, Contaminant transport through aquitards: Technical guidance for aquitard assessment: AWWA Research Foundation, 270 p.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Gotkowitz, M.G., Cherry, J.A., Hart, D.J., Eaton, T.T., Parker, B.L., and Borchardt, M.A. 2004. Assessing contaminant transport through aquitards: Technical guidance for water supply managers, project completion report, AWWA Research Foundation


Groundwater recharge

  • Dripps, W.R., and Bradbury, K.R., 2010. The spatial and temporal variability of groundwater recharge in a forested basin in northern Wisconsin. Hydrological Processes, 24, 383-392.
  • Westenbroek, S., Kelson, V., Dripps, W., Hunt, R. and Bradbury, K., 2009, SWB – A modified Thornthwaite-Mather soil-water-balance code for estimating groundwater recharge: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, 6-A31, 67 p.
  • Hart, D.J., Schoephoester, P., and Bradbury, K.R., 2008. Groundwater recharge in southeastern Wisconsin estimated by a GIS-based water-balance model. Technical Report 47, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. 23 p.
  • Bradbury, K.R., Hunt, R.J., and Rayne, T.W., 2005, Are recharge-area maps useful for land-use planning in humid settings?: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 37, no 7.
  • Stoertz, M.W., and Bradbury, K.R., 1989, Mapping recharge areas using a ground-water flow model—A case study: Ground Water, v. 27, no. 2, p. 220–228.

Professional affiliations

  • Association of American State Geologists, member
  • Geological Society of America, fellow
  • Groundwater Research Advisory Council, University of Wisconsin, member
  • International Association of Hydrogeologists, member
  • National Groundwater Association, member
  • Water Science and Technology Board, National Research Council, former member
  • Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council, member
  • Wisconsin State Natural Areas Council, member


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