Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen

Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen

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Title Hydrogeologist
Address 623 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
Phone 402-472-0772
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail xchen2@unl.edu
Vitae Download file
Contact Preference

Phone: (402) 472 0772, fax: (402) 472 2495, email: xchen2@unl.edu

Hi, I'm Xun-Hong Chen, professor of hydrogeology in the UNL School of Natural Resources. I work in the fields of groundwater modeling, hydrogeology, stream-aquifer interactions, and aquifer tests. I teach Groundwater Modeling and Geostatistics.

As my fields of interest indicate, a good deal of my work involves the analysis of groundwater systems and their interactions with streams. Water is one of the world's most valuable and vulnerable resources, which makes the study of water increasingly important.

To better understand how water flows, my research often employs computer models. Some of these models explore how groundwater irrigation affects groundwater storage and stream depletion. In other projects, I integrate multiple models like ground- and surface-water models to more fully illustrate the water processes involved. I use public-domain modeling software. I also develop my own computer source codes using the Galerkin finite-element method; they have been used to simulate air flow around soil-vapor extraction wells, stream-aquifer-vegetation interactions, and biodegradable contaminant transport in heterogeneous porous media. Regional groundwater flow models have been developed for the evaluation of stream-aquifer interactions in river basins induced by groundwater irrigations or due to climate change.

In addition to modeling, my research also studies the hydraulic properties of aquifers and stream-bed sediments. Many times, this work will take the information gathered about hydraulic properties and examine the role these properties have in stream flow depletion. My research group has used Geoprobe machine to study streambed sedimentary structures and hydraulic properties in more than 600-mile stream network. We also conducted a dozen of pumping tests in the High Plains aquifer.

Currently, I am using some of the modeling techniques described above to explore the hydrologic cycle in the Nebraska Sandhills, in the Platte and Republican River valleys, as well as in the Blue River basin and the Elkhorn River basin, Nebraska. I have determined some of the aquifer and streambed's hydraulic properties and then studied their role in the interaction of groundwater and stream water.

I have been at UNL since 1994. Before my tenure with the School of Natural Resources, I worked with an environmental/hydrogeologic consulting company for three years in Wyoming.

 Streambed test using Geoprobe in the Big Blue River, southeast Nebraska
Streambed test using Geoprobe in the Big Blue River, southeast Nebraska

Selected Publications

Dong, W.H., X.H. Chen, Z.W. Wang, G.X. Ou, and C. Liu, 2012. Comparison of vertical hydraulic conductivity in a streambed-point bar system of a gaining stream. Journal of Hydrology 450-451, 9-16, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.05.037
Lu, C. X.H. Chen, G. Ou, C. Cheng, L. Shu, D. Cheng and E. Appiah-Adjei, 2012. Determination of the anisotropy of an upper streambed layer in east-central Nebraska, USA. Hydrogeology Journal 20(1), 93-101, DOI: 10.1007/s10040-011-0792-4.
Lu, C.P., X.H. Chen, C. Cheng, G. Ou, and L. Shu, 2012. Horizontal hydraulic conductivity of shallow streambed sediments and comparison with the grain-size analysis results. Hydrological Processes 26(3), 454-466, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8143.
Miao, C. Y., L.Yang, X.H. Chen and Y. Gao, 2012. The vegetation cover dynamic (1982-2006) in different erosion regions of the Yellow River basin, China. Land Degradation & Development 23(1), 62-71, DOI: 10.1002/ldr.1050.
Chen, X.H., 2011. Depth-dependent hydrologic conductivity distribution patterns of a streambed. Hydrological Processes 25(2), 278-287. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7844.
Cheng, C., J.X. Song, X.H. Chen, and D. Wang, 2011. Statistical distribution of streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity along the Platte River, Nebraska. Water Resources Management 25(1), 265-285, DOI: 10.1007/s11269-010-9698-5.
Cheng, Q. B., X. Chen, X.H. Chen, M.H. Ling and L.A. Wei, 2011. Water infiltration underneath single-ring permeameters and hydraulic conductivity determination. Journal of Hydrology 398(1-2), 135-143, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.12.011.
Hu, L.T., C.X. Chen, and X.H. Chen, 2011. Simulation of groundwater flow within observation boreholes for confined aquifers. Journal of Hydrology 398(1-2), 101-108, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.12.013.
Rong, L., X. Chen, X.H. Chen, S. Wang, and X Du, 2011. Isotopic analysis of water sources of mountainous plant uptakes in a karst plateau of southwest China. Hydrological Processes 25(23), 3666-3675, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8093.
Chen, X.H., J. Song, and W. Wang. 2010. Spatial variability of specific yield and vertical hydraulic conductivity in a highly permeable alluvial aquifer. Journal of Hydrology 388(3-4), 379-388, DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.05.017.
Liu, L.H., L. C. Shu, X.H. Chen, E. Wang, and T. Oromo, 2010. Rainfall-driven spring hydrograph modeling in karstic water system, southwestern China. Water Resources Management 24(11), 2689-2701, DOI 10.1007/s11269-009-9574-3.
Liu, L.H., L.C. Shu, X. H. Chen, and T. Oromo, 2010. The Hydrologic function and behaviors of the Houzhai underground river basin, Guizhou Province, southwestern China. Hydrogeology Journal 18(2), 509-518, DOI 10.1007/s10040-009-0518-z.
Song, J.X., X. H. Chen, C. Cheng, D.M. Wang, and W. Wang, 2010. Variability of streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity with depth along the Elkhorn River, Nebraska, USA. Chinese Science Bulletin 55(10), 992-999, DOI: 10.1007/s11434-005-0640-9.
Chen, X.H., J. Song, C. Cheng, D. Wang, and S. Lackey, 2009. A new method for mapping variability in vertical seepage flux in streambeds. Hydrogeology Journal 17(3), 519-525, DOI 10.1007/s10040-008-0384-0.
Song, J.X., X. H. Chen, C. Cheng, D.M. Wang, S. Lackey, and Z. Xu, 2009. Feasibility of grain-size analysis methods for determination of vertical hydraulic conductivity. Journal of Hydrology 375 (3-4), 428-438, DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.06.043.
Chen, X. H., M. Burbach, and C. Cheng, 2008. Electrical and hydraulic vertical variability in channel sediments and its effects on streamflow depletion due to groundwater extraction. Journal of Hydrology 352(3-4), 250-266, DOI:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.01.004.
Wu, H., L. K. Soh, A. Samal, and X. H. Chen, 2008. Trend analysis of streamflow drought events in Nebraska. Water Resources Management 22(2), 145-164, DOI: 10.1007/s11269-006-9148-6.
Chen, X.H., 2007. Hydrologic connections of a stream-aquifer-vegegation zone in south-central Platte River Valley, Nebraska. Journal of Hydrology 333, 554-568.
Cheng, C. and X. H. Chen, 2007. Evaluation of methods for determination of hydraulic properties in an aquifer-aquitard system hydrologically connected to a river. Hydrogeology Journal 15(4), 669-678, DOI 10.1007/s10040-006-0135-z.
Song, J., X. H. Chen, C. Cheng, S. Summerside, and F. Wen, 2007. Effects of hyporheic processes on streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity in three rivers of Nebraska, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L07409, DOI:10.1029/2007GL029254.
Chen, X, Y. Q. Chen, and X. H. Chen, 2006. Separation of baseflow accounting for the effect of bank storage. Journal of Hydrology 327, 539-549.
Chen, X.H., and L. Shu, 2006. Groundwater evapotranspiration captured by seasonally pumping wells in river valleys. Journal of Hydrology 318, 334-347.
Chen, X.H., and Y. Yin, 2006. The Flexible Tolerance Method for estimating the evapotranspiration and infiltration in the root zone. Journal of American Water Resources Association 42(2), 495-512.
Wen, F. J. and X. H. Chen, 2006. Evaluation of the impact of groundwater irrigation on streamflow depletion in Nebraska. Journal of Hydrology 327, 603-617.
Zhang, Y. I. A. Khan, X. H. Chen, and R. F. Spalding, 2006. Transport and persistence of ethanol in groundwater. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 82, 183-194.

Educational Background

  • BS - Zhejiang University in China, Geology (1982)
  • MS - California State University-Northridge,, Geology (1988)
  • PhD - University of Wyoming, Hydrogeology (1994)

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Environmental Science

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysics Union
  • Geological Society of America
    • none
    • Fellow 2011

Notable Websites

Other Areas of Interest

Groundwater flow modeling, stream-aquifer interactions, High Plains Aquifer, aquifer and streambed tests, contaminant transport modeling, hydrocarbon contamination, geostatistics

SNR Areas of Expertise

Keyword Expert Level

10 - Top Expert
1 - Mild Interest

Groundwater Modeling












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Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Investigation of Stream-Aquifier Hydrologic Relationship for Clear Creek in Polk and Butler Counties, Nebraska (additional funding)
Starting Date 10/16/2009
Principal Investigators
Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen
Ending Date 12/31/2012
Funding Level $29,928.00
Funding Source Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District

Grant Title Stream Aquifier Relationships in the Elkhorn River Basin
Starting Date 3/11/2011
Principal Investigators
Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen
Susan Lackey
Ending Date 6/30/2013
Funding Level $58,648.00
Funding Source Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District

Grant Title Investigate Stream-Aquifer
Starting Date 9/1/2010
Principal Investigators
Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen
Ending Date 8/30/2012
Funding Level $79,800.00
Funding Source Central Platte Natural Resources District

Grant Title Investigation of Stream-Aquifier Hydrologic Relationship for Clear Creek in Polk and Butler Counties, Nebraska
Starting Date 9/21/2009
Principal Investigators
Xun-Hong (Hong) Chen
Ending Date 12/31/2010
Funding Level $34,000.00
Funding Source Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District


Undergraduate Majors Bachelor of Science in
  • Water Science
Graduate Program(s)

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences

Courses Taught
Course Number Course Title Fall Even Years Fall Odd Years Spring Even Years Spring Odd Years Summer Session Cross Listing
NRES 825 Geostatistics GEOL/NRES 825
NRES 918 Applied Groundwater Modeling n/a