Montana State University

Department of Earth Sciences

Montana State University
P.O. Box 173480
Bozeman, MT 59717-3480

Tel: (406) 994-3331
Fax: (406) 994-6923
Location: 226 Traphagen Hall

Department Chair

Dr. David Mogk

Stephan G. Custer

Associate Professor of Geology

Contact Information



B.S., Geology, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, 1968
M.S., Geology, University of California, Berkeley, 1973
Ph.D., Geology, University of Montana, Missoula, 1976

Research Interests

I am retired and no longer taking graduate students. My research interests focus on a variety of topics with the theme "water". Interests include ground water, streams, snow, and water quality. Active projects include evaluation of contamination of ground water below rural subdivisions from a physical, microbiological and geographic information perspective; assessment of the potential of the Madison aquifer for Bozeman city water supply, development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) based risk assessment for nitrate and microbial contamination of ground water in the Gallatin Local Water Quality District; and development of a conceptual hydrologic model for one or more wildlife refuges in the Morthern Rocky Mountain region. I am interested in research topics such as GIS models of the spatial distribution of clay-mineral type and irrigation-suitability of water produced during development of coalbed methane, the relationship between slope roughness elements in streams and stream morphology, the relationship between slope geomorphology and channel form, the processes of snowmelt production and runoff prediction, development and validation of models which predict snow hardness using GIS, assessment of snow avalanche potential in mountain settings, and geothermal hydrogeology of the Yellowstone region.

Recent Theses Completed

Chelsey-Preston, Tara, 2010,Correlating avalanche activity to weather patterns in Gothic, Colorado

Jenkins, Patricia, 2007,  Map-based tests on controls of anabranc river character on the lower Yellowstone River.

Trautman, Simon, 2007, Wet Loose snow avalnching in southwest Montana.

Fleming, Kerri, 2003, The effects of septic systems on surface water and ground water quality in two subdivisions in the Gallatin County Local Water Quality District, Montana.

Greenup, Taylor, 2003, Spatial investigation of ground water nitrate-nitrogen and coliform bacteria in the Gallatin Local Water Quality District, Gallatin County, Montana

Kirk, Karin, 2002, Preliminary investigation of the Madison aquifer for a public drinking water supply in Bozeman, Montana.

Selected Publications

2000 Custer, S., Christner, W.T., Dixon, S., Burton, G., Snyder, R., Aspinall, R., Rupp, G., and Roark,T., Spatial Data for Septic System Assessment, Local Water Quality District, Gallatin County, MT. Bozeman, MT, Montana State University,

2000 Custer, S.G. and Burton, G., Spatial data helps assess septic limitations in a rural community: 2000 ESRI International Users’ Conference,

1996 Custer, S.G., Farnes, P., J.P., Wilson, and Snyder, R.D., A comparison of hand- and spline-drawn precipitation maps for mountainous Montana. Water Resources Bulletin, v. 32(2), P. 393-405.

1994 Custer, S.G., Michels, D.E., Sill, W.R., Sonderegger, J.L., Weight, W., and Woessner, W.W., Two strategies for Yellowstone National Park hydrothermal protection in light of scientific uncertainty. in, Marston, R.A. and Hasfurther, V.R. (eds.), Effects of Human-Induced Changes on Hydrologic Systems: American Water Resources, Association, Bethesda, MD, p. 821-830.

1991 Custer, S.G., Snow as a field-teaching medium for Earth Science: Journal of Geological Education, vol. 39, p. 34-43.

1989 Bugosh, N. and Custer, S.G., The effect of a Log-Jam Burst on Bedload Transport and Channel Characteristics in a Headwaters Stream. in, Woessner, W.W., and Potts, D.F. (eds.), American Water Resources Association Symposium Proceedings on Headwaters Hydrology: American Water Resources Association Technical Publication Series TPS-89-1, p. 203-212.

1987 Custer, S.G., Ergenzinger, P., Anderson, B., and Bugosh, N., Electromagnetic detection of pebble transport in streams: A method for measurement of sediment-transport waves. in, Ethridge, F.G. and Flores, R. (eds.), Recent Developments in Fluvial Sedimentology: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists, Special Publication 39, p. 21-26.