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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  People  /  Research Staff  /  Mark Cuthbert

Mark Cuthbert

Dr Mark Cuthbert

Senior Research Associate



Department of Geography
University College London
Gower Street


Publications: Google Scholar, ResearchGate, ResearcherID, ORCID



After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in Earth Sciences in 1998, Mark specialised in Hydrogeology and Groundwater Resources through an MSc at University College London (UCL) in 1999.

Following 3 years working in environmental and engineering consultancy (Entec UK, now AMEC Foster Wheeler), he completed a NERC funded (LOCAR) PhD at the University of Birmingham (UoB). He then worked in the charitable sector doing peace and development work for 3 years before returning to UoB as a postdoc in 2008 to work on a variety of projects including SWITCH (EU FP6) and BANDD (EPSRC/NERC).

Between 2012-2015 he held a Marie Curie Research Fellowship (EU FP7) jointly between UoB and UNSW Australia’s Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre. This was followed by further postdoctoral research at UoB (including work for Sellafield Ltd) during 2016 while also being a Visiting Lecturer in MSc Hydrogeology.

He is currently a Senior Research Associate at UCL working on an EPSRC Global Challenges Research Fund project ‘Banking the Rains’ (and allied projects such as GroFutures and The Chronicles Consortium), aimed at better understanding, quantifying and managing groundwater recharge in Africa.

Mark also holds a position as a Visiting Research Fellow at University of New South Wales (Australia).


My research is currently focussed on coupled hydrological-climate process dynamics in order: to understand & quantify groundwater sustainability, particularly in drylands; to improve interpretations of terrestrial paleoclimate proxy archives; to understand Quaternary paleoenvironments & how they influenced our evolution as a species.

Please get in touch for more information about my research, for copies of papers, or if you are interested in collaborating.


Climate-Groundwater Interactions and Paleohydrology3.jpg

How has groundwater availability varied with climate over Earth’s history? How has this influenced the evolution of humans and other species? How will future climate change affect groundwater availability?

A better understanding of climate-groundwater interactions in the past and present is crucial to developing strategies for future human resilience to climate change.

Key papers: Cuthbert & Ashley 2014 PLOS ONE; Holman et al. 2012 HJ; Acworth.., Cuthbert et al. (2016) HJ



Hydrological Controls on Paleoclimate Proxy Archive Geochemistry

How do features of the water chemistry that are preserved in speleothems vary along a flow path from ‘drop’ (rainfall) to ‘drip’ (cave exfiltration)? How do groundwater inputs to lakes influence the chemistry of lake carbonate deposits?

Improved processes understanding of the links between hydrology, climate and the geochemistry of terrestrial paleoclimate proxy archives in the present, can improve our understanding and models of past climates.

Key papers: Cuthbert et al. 2014 EPSL; Cuthbert et al. 2014 Sci. Rep.; Rau, Cuthbert et al. (2015) QSR; Jones, Cuthbert et al. (2016) QSR



Groundwater recharge

5.jpgHow and why does groundwater recharge occur? How has recharge changed as the climate has varied, and how might it in the future? How can we best estimate groundwater recharge?

Answering these questions is key to developing strategies for sustainable groundwater management, a critical part of meeting our global food-water-energy needs.

Key papers: Cuthbert et al. 2009 QJEG&H, Cuthbert 2010 WRR, Cuthbert et al. 2010a JoH, Cuthbert et al. 2010b JoW&CC, Cuthbert et al. 2013 HESS, Cuthbert et al. 2016 WRR


Surface water-groundwater interactions

What are the fundamental controls on exchange fluxes between surface water and groundwater? How does human activity change these dynamics? How can we best estimate these fluxes?

Such interactions control catchment water quality and hydroecological health and are fundamental for underpinning sound integrated catchment management.

Key papers: Cuthbert et al. 2010 AWR, Cuthbert & Mackay 2013 WRR, Krause et al. 2014 WRR, Roshan et al. 2014 AWR


Groundwater flow and transport processes

6.jpgWhat governs the form of groundwater recessions? How can we characterise preferential flow phenomena in porous media? How do bacteria move in the subsurface? How can biomineralisation be used for reducing the spread of groundwater contaminants?

Exploring fundamental groundwater flow and transport processes is critical to managing human impact on the natural environment.

Key papers: Cuthbert 2014 WRR, Cuthbert et al 2013 ES&T, Tobler et al. 2014, Handley-Sidhu et al. 2014




You can also view my publications via Google Scholar, ResearchGate or ResearcherID


Acworth, R. I., Halloran, L. J. S., Rau, G. C., Cuthbert, M. O., & Bernardi, T. L. (2016). An objective frequency-domain method for quantifying confined aquifer compressible storage using Earth and atmospheric tides. Geophysical Research Letters. view

Coleborn K., Rau, G. C., Cuthbert, M. O., Baker, A., & Navarre, O. (2016) Solar forced diurnal regulation of cave drip rates via phreatophyte evapotranspiration Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 20, 4439-4455. view

Cuthbert, M. O., Acworth, R. I., Andersen, M. S., Larsen, J., McCallum, A., Rau, G. C., Tellam, J. H. (2016). Understanding and quantifying indirect groundwater recharge from ephemeral streams using water table fluctuations. Water Resources Research. 52, doi:10.1002/2015WR017503. view

Rivett, M. O., Cuthbert, M. O., Gamble, R., Connon, L. E., Pearson, A., Shepley, M. G., & Davis, J. (2016). Highway deicing salt dynamic runoff to surface water and subsequent infiltration to groundwater during severe UK winters. Science of the Total Environment. 565, 324-338. view

Jones M. D., Cuthbert, M. O., Leng, M. J., McGowan, S., Mariethoz, G., Arrowsmith, C., Sloane, H. J., Humphrey, K. K. & Cross, I. (2016). Comparisons of observed and modelled lake δ18O variability. Quaternary Science Reviews. 131, 329-340. view

Baker, A., Jex, C. N., Rutlidge, H., Woltering, M., Blyth, A., Andersen, M. S., Cuthbert, M. O., Marjo, C. E., Markowska, M., Rau, G. C., & Khan, S. J. (2016). An irrigation experiment to compare soil, water and speleothem tetraether membrane lipid distributions. Organic Geochemistry. 94, 12-20. view

Acworth, R. I., Rau, G. C., Jensen, E. & Cuthbert, M. O. (2016). Long-term spatio-temporal precipitation variability in arid zone Australia and implications for groundwater recharge. Hydrogeology Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10040-015-1358-7 view

Markowska, M., Baker, A., Andersen, M. S., Jex, C. N., Cuthbert, M. O., Rau, G. C, Graham, P. W., Rutlidge, Mariethoz, G., H., Marjo, C. E., Treble, P. C., & Edwards, N. (2016). Evaporation and hydrological controls on <delta>18O drip water composition and implications for speleothem paleoclimate reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews. 131, 285-301. view


Rau, G. C., Cuthbert, M. O., McCallum, A. M., Halloran, L., & Andersen, M. S. (2015). Assessing the accuracy of 1‐D analytical heat tracing for estimating near‐surface sediment thermal diffusivity and water flux under transient conditions. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 120, 1551-1573. view

Rutlidge, H., Andersen, M. S., Baker, A., Chinu, K. J., Cuthbert, M. O., Jex, C. N., Marjo, C. E., Markowska, M., & Rau, G. C (2015). Organic characterisation of cave drip water by LC-OCD and fluorescence analysis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 166, 15-28. view

Rau, G. C., Cuthbert, M. O., Andersen, M. S., Baker, A., Rutlidge, H., Markowska, M., Roshan, H., Marjo, C. E., Graham, P. W., & Acworth, R. I. (2015). Controls on cave drip water temperature and implications for speleothem-based paleoclimate reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews 127, 19-36. view

Crane, R. A., Cuthbert, M. O., & Timms, W. (2015) Technical Note: The use of an interrupted-flow centrifugation method to characterise preferential flow in low permeability media, (Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 12, 67-92), Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 3991-4000. view

Acworth, R. I., Rau, G. C., McCallum, A. M., Andersen, M. S. & Cuthbert, M. O. (2015). Understanding connected surface-water/groundwater systems using Fourier analysis of daily and sub-daily head fluctuations. Hydrogeology Journal, 23 (1), 143-159. view


Cuthbert, M. O. & Ashley, G. M. (2014). A spring forward for hominin evolution in East Africa. PLOS ONE, 9, e107358  view

Roshan, H., Cuthbert, M. O., Andersen, M. S. & Acworth, R. I. (2014). Local thermal non-equilibrium in sediments: implications for temperature dynamics and the use of heat as a tracer. Advances in Water Resources, 73, 176-184  view

Cuthbert, M. O. (2014). Straight thinking about groundwater recession. Water Resources Research, 50, 2407-2424  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Rau, G. C., Andersen, M. S., Roshan, H., Rutlidge, H., Marjo, C. E., Markowska, M., Jex, C. N., Graham, P. W., Mariethoz, G., Acworth, R. I. & Baker, A. (2014). Evaporative cooling of speleothems. Scientific Reports, 4, 5162  view

Handley-Sidhu, S., Hriljac, J. A., Cuthbert, M. O., Renshaw, J., Pattrick, R. A., Charnock, J. M., Stolpe, B., Lead, J., Baker, S. & Macaskie, L. E. (2014). Bacterially produced calcium phosphate nano-biominerals: sorption capacity, site preferences and stability of captured radionuclides. Environmental Science & Technology, 48, 6891–6898  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Baker, A., Jex, C. N., Graham, P. W., Treble, P., Andersen, M. S. & Acworth, R. I. (2014). Drip water isotopes in semi-arid karst: implications for speleothem paleoclimatology. Earth & Planetary Science Letters. 395, 194-204  view

Rutlidge, H., Baker, A., Marjo, C. E., Andersen, M. S., Graham, P. W., Cuthbert, M. O., Rau, G. C., Roshan, H., Markowska, M., Mariethoz, G. & Jex, C. N. (2014). Dripwater organic matter and trace element geochemistry in a semi-arid karst environment: Implications for speleothem paleoclimatology. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 135, 217-230  view

Tobler, D. J., Cuthbert, M. O. & Phoenix, V. R. (2014). Transport of Sporosarcina pasteurii in sandstone and its significance for subsurface engineering technologies. Applied Geochemistry, 42, 38-44  view

Krause, S., Boano, F., Cuthbert, M. O., Fleckenstein, J. H. & Lewandowski, J. (2014), Understanding process dynamics at aquifer-surface water interfaces: An introduction to the special section on new modeling approaches and novel experimental technologies, Water Resources Research, 50, 1847–1855  view


Cuthbert, M. O., McMillan, L. A., Handley-Sidhu, S., Riley, M. S., Tobler, D. J. & Phoenix, V. (2013). A field and modelling study of fractured rock permeability reduction using microbially induced calcite precipitation. Environmental Science & Technology, 47, 13637–13643  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Mackay, R. & Nimmo, J. R. (2013).  Linking soil moisture balance and source-responsive models to estimate diffuse and preferential components of groundwater recharge.  Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 1003–1019  view

Handley-Sidhu, S., Sham, E., Cuthbert, M. O., Nougarol, S., Mantle, M., Johns, M. L., Macaskie, L. E. & Renshaw, J. C. (2013).  Kinetics of calcite precipitation by urease active bean meal and permeability reduction of porous media evidenced by magnetic resonance imaging.  Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol., 10, 881–890  view

Cuthbert, M. O. & Mackay, R. (2013).  Impacts of nonuniform flow on estimates of vertical streambed flux. Water Resources Research, 49, 19-28  view


Rivett, M. O., Turner, R. J., Cuthbert, M. O. & Glibbery, P. (2012).  The legacy of chlorinated solvents in the Birmingham aquifer, UK: Observations spanning three decades and the challenge of future urban groundwater development. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 140, 107–123  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Riley, M. S., Handley-Sidhu, S., Renshaw, J. C., Tobler, D. J., Phoenix, V. R. & Mackay, R. (2012).  Controls on the rate of ureolysis and the morphology of carbonate precipitated by S. Pasteurii biofilms and limits due to bacterial encapsulation.  Ecological Engineering, 41, 32-40  view

Holman I. P., Allen, D. M., Cuthbert M. O. & Goderniaux P. (2012).  Towards best practice for assessing the impacts of climate change on groundwater. Hydrogeology Journal, 20, 1-4  view


Tobler, D. J., Cuthbert, M. O., Greswell, R. B., Riley, M. S., Renshaw, J. C., Handley-Sidhu, S. & Phoenix, V. R. (2011).  Comparison of rates of ureolysis between Sporosarcina pasteurii and an indigenous groundwater community under conditions required to precipitate large volumes of calcite.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75, 3290-3301  view

Cuthbert M. O., Mackay R., & Greswell, R. B., (2011).  A wet/wet differential pressure sensor for measuring vertical hydraulic gradient; comment. Ground Water, 49, 781-782  view


Cuthbert, M. O. & Tindimugaya, C. (2010). The importance of preferential flow in controlling groundwater recharge in tropical Africa and implications for modelling the impact of climate change on groundwater resources. Journal of Water and Climate Change, 1, 234-245  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Mackay, R., Durand, V., Aller, M.-F., Greswell, R. B. & Rivett M. O. (2010).  Impacts of river-bed gas on the hydraulic and thermal dynamics of the hyporheic zone. Advances in Water Resources, 33, 1347–1358  view

Cuthbert M. O., Mackay R., Tellam J.H. & Thatcher K.E. (2010).  Combining unsaturated and saturated zone hydraulic observations for understanding and estimating groundwater recharge through glacial till. Journal of Hydrology, 391, 263–276  view

Cuthbert, M. O. (2010).  An improved time series approach for estimating groundwater recharge from groundwater level fluctuations. Water Resources Research, 46, W09515  view

Cuthbert M. O., Mackay R., Tellam J. H. & Barker R. D. (2010).  The use of electrical resistivity tomography in deriving local-scale models of recharge through superficial deposits; reply.  Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 43, 364  view

Greswell, R. B., Rahman, S. H., Cuthbert, M. O. & Tellam, J. H. (2010).  An inexpensive flow-through laser nephelometer for the detection of natural colloids and manufactured nanoparticles.  Journal of Hydrology, 388, 112-120  view


Greswell, Richard; Ellis, Paul; Cuthbert, Mark; White, Rachel; Durand, Veronique, (2009). The design and application of an inexpensive pressure monitoring system for shallow water level measurement, tensiometry and piezometry. Journal of Hydrology, 373, 416–425  view

Cuthbert, M. O., Mackay, R., Tellam, J. H. & Barker, R. D. (2009).  The use of electrical resistivity tomography in deriving local scale models of recharge through superficial deposits.  Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology & Hydrogeology, 42, 199-209  view


Contributions to Peer Reviewed Compiled Volumes

Gavigan, J., Mackay, R. & Cuthbert, M. O. (2009).  Climate change impacts on groundwater recharge in NE Uganda and the potential role of groundwater development in livelihood adaptation and peacebuilding.  In: Taylor, R., Tindimugaya, C., Owor, M. & Shamsudduha, M. (eds.), Groundwater & Climate Change in Africa. IAHS Publication 334, p.153-60, ISBN 978-1-907161-05-6.

Burgess, W., Ahmed, K. M., Carruthers, A., Cheetham, H., Cobbing, J., Cuthbert M. O., Mather, S. & McCarthy, E. (2007).  Trends in Arsenic Concentration at Tubewells in Bangladesh: Conceptual Models, Numerical Models, and Monitoring Proxies. In: Bhattacharya, P., Mukherjee, A. B., Bundschuh, J., Zevenhoven, R., Loeppert, R. (eds.), Arsenic in Soil and Groundwater Environment: Biogeochemical Interactions, Health Effects and Remediation.  Elsevier, ISBN-10: 0-444-51820-7. (CR 0.3)  view

Mackay, R., Cuthbert, M. O., Ash, H. & Tellam, J. H. (2006).  Towards an up-scaled model of aquifer recharge through glacial drift deposits, Shropshire, UK.  In: Bierkens, M. F.P., Gehrels, J.C. & Kovar, K. (eds.), Calibration and Reliability in Groundwater Modelling: From Uncertainty to Decision Making. IAHS Publication 304, p.52-58, ISBN 1-901-502-58-9.

Cuthbert, M. O., Burgess, W. G. & Connell, L. (2002).  Constraints on sustainable development of arsenic-bearing aquifers in southern Bangladesh. Part 2: Preliminary models of arsenic variability in pumped groundwater.  In: Hiscock, K.M., Rivett, M.O. & Davison, R.M. (eds.), Sustainable Groundwater Development. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 193, 165-179. (CR 0.9)  view