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Michael J. Nicholl

Associate Professor of Geology
Ph.D. - University of Nevada, Reno
Vadose Zone Hydrology, Environmental Fluid Mechanics,
and Geological Engineering
Room: LFG - 227
Mailstop: 4010
Telephone: (702) 895-4616

Professional Background
Research Publications
Geoscience Homepage


Professional Background

  • Ph.D. in Hydrology and Hydrogeology, University of Nevada, Reno (1993)
  • M.S. in Geological Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno (1987)
  • B.S. in Geology/Physics, Eastern Michigan University (1983)
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  • GEOL 101 - Introductory Geology: Exploring Planet Earth
  • CE 432 - Geological Engineering
  • GEOL 474 - Hydrogeology
  • GEOL 485 - Engineering Geology

  • Graduate:
  • CE 632 - Geological Engineering
  • GEOL 674 - Hydrogeology
  • GEOL 685 - Engineering Geology
  • GEOL 701 - Research Methods in Geoscience
  • GEOL 709 - Field Methods in Hydrogeology
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    Dr. Nicholl's areas of expertise include vadose zone hydrology, environmental fluid mechanics, and geological engineering. His research currently focuses on the study of fluid flow in fractured rocks, with particular emphasis on two-phase flows (i.e., air/water, water/NAPL, and brine/petroleum). This is a highly active area of research, with important implications to a number of high-profile applied problems. Dr. Nicholl and his students are working to develop a fundamental understanding of two-phase flow in fractured rock through a combination of laboratory, field, and numerical experimentation. Please see the publication list below, or email for further details.

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    Selected Research Publications

    Ji, S-H., M.J. Nicholl, R.J. Glass, and K-K. Lee, Influence of simple fracture intersections with differing aperture on density-driven immiscible flow: Wetting versus nonwetting flows, Water Resources Research, 42, W10416, doi:10.1029/2006WR004953, 2006.

    Nicholl, M.J. and M. Karnowski, Laboratory apparatus for the demonstration of quicksand, Journal of Geoscience Education, 54(5), 578-583, 2006.

    Hubbell, J.M., J.L. Osiensky, M.J. Nicholl, and J.B. Sisson, A suction bailer for sampling very thin saturated zones, Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 26(2), 52-57, 2006.

    Nicholl, M.J. and T. Williams, Comment on "The magmatic-hydrothermal transition evidence from quartz porphyritic textures and endoskarn abundance in Cu-Zn skarns at the Empire Mine, Idaho, USA" by Z. Chang and L.D. Meinert, Chemical Geology, 228, 286-288, 2006.

    Nicholl, M.J. and R.J. Glass, Infiltration into an analog fracture: Experimental observations of gravity-driven fingering, Vadose Zone Journal, 4. 1123-1151, 2005.

    Wood, T.R., M.J. Nicholl, and R.J. Glass, Influence of fracture intersections under unsaturated, low flow conditions, Water Resources Research, 41, W04017, 2005.

    Ji, S-H., M.J. Nicholl, R.J. Glass, and K-K. Lee, Influence of a simple fracture intersection on density-driven immiscible flow: Wetting vs. nonwetting flows, Geophysical Research Letters, 31, L14501, doi:10.1029/2004GL020045, 2004.

    Holt, R.M. and M.J. Nicholl, Uncertainty in vadose zone flow and transport prediction, Vadose Zone Journal, 3, 580-584, 2004.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, H. Rajaram, and B. Andre, Development of slender transport pathways in unsaturated fractured rock: Simulation with modified invasion percolation, Geophysical Research Letters, 31, L06502, 2004.

    Hubbell, J.M., M.J. Nicholl, J.B. Sisson, and D.L. McElroy, Estimating flux in a deep vadose zone using the Darcian approach, Vadose Zone Journal, 3, 560-569, 2004.

    Hubbell, J.M., J.B. Sisson, M.J. Nicholl, and R.G. Taylor, Well design to reduce barometric pressure effects on water level data in unconfined aquifers, Vadose Zone Journal, 3, 183-189, 2004.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, H. Rajaram, and T.R. Wood, Unsaturated flow through fracture networks: Evolution of liquid phase structure, dynamics, and the critical importance of fracture intersections, Water Resources Research, 39(12), 1352, 2003.

    Wood, T.R., M.J. Nicholl, and R.J. Glass, Fracture intersections as integrators for unsaturated flow, Geophysical Research Letters, 29(24), 2191, 2002.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, S.E. Pringle, and T.R. Wood, Unsaturated flow through a fracture-matrix network: Dynamic preferential pathways in meso-scale laboratory experiments, Water Resources Research, 38(12), 1281, 2002.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, A.L. Ramirez, and W.D. Daily, Liquid phase structure within an unsaturated fracture network beneath a surface infiltration event: Field experiment, Water Resources Research, 38(10), 1199, 2002.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, and S.E. Pringle, Unsaturated flow through a fracture-matrix-network: A first experiment, in Bridging the gap between measurement and modeling in heterogeneous media, International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research, Madrid, Spain, 2002.

    Detwiler, R.L., Glass, R.J., H. Rajaram, and M.J. Nicholl, Satiated Relative Permeability of Variable-Aperture Fractures, in Bridging the gap between measurement and modeling in heterogeneous media, International Association of Hydraulic Engineering and Research, Madrid, Spain, 2002.

    Nicholl, M.J. and R.L. Detwiler, Simulation of flow and transport in a single fracture: Macroscopic effects of underestimating local head loss, Geophysical Research Letters, 28(23), 4351-54, 2001.

    Glass, R.J., H. Rajaram, M.J. Nicholl, and R.L. Detwiler, The interaction of two fluid phases in fractured media, Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science, 6, 223-235, 2001.

    Nicholl, M.J. and R.J. Glass, Simulation of immiscible viscous displacement within the plane of a horizontal fracture, in Rock Mechanics in the National Interest, edited by D. Elsworth, J.P. Tinucci, and K.A. Heasley, 205-210, 1570 pp., Balkema, Lisse, 2001.

    Nicholl, M.J., H. Rajaram, and R.J. Glass, Factors controlling satiated relative permeability in a partially-saturated horizontal fracture, Geophysical Research Letters, 27(3), 393-96, 2000.

    Nicholl, M.J., and G.F. Scott, Teaching Darcy's Law through hands-on experimentation, Journal of Geoscience Education, 48, 216-221, 2000.

    Glass, R.J., M.J. Nicholl, and L. Yarrington, Correction to: A modified invasion percolation model for low capillary number immiscible displacements in horizontal rough walled fractures: Influence of local in-plane curvature, Water Resources Research, 36(7), 1991, 2000.

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  • B. Benneman [M.S. 2007] "Horizontal unsaturated flow across a single fracture".

  • J.M. Hubbell [Ph.D. in progress] "Estimation of flux in the deep vadose zone".

  • T.R. Wood [Ph.D. 2005] "Dynamics of unsaturated flow at fracture intersections".

  • J. Diamond [M.S. 2003] "Gravity-driven fingers within a vertical fracture in the presence of a highly sorptive matrix".
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    Office:Lilly Fong Geoscience Building (LFG) 104B
    Tel: 702.895.3262; FAX 702.895.4064
    Department of Geoscience
    University of Nevada
    4505 Maryland Pkwy
    Las Vegas, NV 89154-4010