Dr Catherine Hughes

Senior Research Scientist
Phone - +61 2 9717 9366


Role at ANSTO


Dr Cath Hughes is a senior research scientist at the ANSTO Institute for Environmental Research. Cath's role in the Isotopes for Water Project is to trace water, sediment and contaminant movement in reservoirs, catchments, aquifers and coastal water bodies using stable isotopes and artificial or naturally occurring radioactive isotopes as environmental tracers.

Her particular interest is in catchment hydrology and the management  of coastal, estuarine and wetland areas. Through case studies in the Murray-Darling and Sydney Basins she aims to promote the routine use of stable isotopes in hydrology and catchment studies and to contribute to a national sampling network.

Closer to home she is involved in monitoring and research related to the movement of radionuclides in sewage effluent, river sediments and groundwater in the Sydney region.

She has also been involved in IAEA/RCA activities teaching and demonstrating applications of radiotracer technology to coastal engineering and environmental problems in Asia.




Isotope hydrology, radiotracing, precipitation, groundwater, surface water, radioactive contamination, biota dose assessment, coastal processes.


Qualifications & Achievements


Cath joined ANSTO in August 1999 and has a PhD in wetland hydrology from the University of Newcastle and an Environmental Engineering degree from the University of NSW.



Selected publications

Key Publications: (Click here for a full list)

Hughes, C.E. and Crawford, J. 2013. Spatial and temporal variation in precipitation isotopes in the Sydney Basin, Australia. Journal of Hydrology. 489: 42-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.02.036.

Hughes, C.E. and Crawford, J., 2012. A new precipitation weighted method for determining the meteoric water line for hydrological applications demonstrated using Australian and global GNIP data. Journal of Hydrology. 464–465: 344–351. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.07.029.

Hughes, C.E., Cendón, D.I., Johansen, M.P., Meredith, K.T. 2011. Climate change and groundwater. In J.J.A. Jones (Ed) Sustaining Groundwater Resources. International Year of Planet Earth, Springer, Netherlands, 97-117, DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-3426-7_7. ISBN 978-90-481-3426-7.

Hughes, C.E., Cendón, D.I., Harrison, J.J., Hankin, S.I., Johansen, M.P., Payne, T.E., Vine, M., Collins, R.N., Hoffmann, E.L., Loosz, T. 2011. Movement of a tritium plume in shallow groundwater at a legacy low level radioactive waste disposal site in eastern Australia. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 102(10): 943-952. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2010.05.009.

Veliscek Carolan, J., Hughes, C.E and Hoffmann, E.L. 2011. Dose assessment for marine biota and humans from discharge of 131I to the marine environment and uptake by algae in Sydney, Australia, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 102(10): 953-963. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2009.10.002.

Meredith, K.T., Hollins, S.E., Hughes, C.E., Cendon, D.I., Hankin, S. and Stone, D.J.M., 2009. Temporal variation in stable isotopes (18O and 2H) and major ion concentrations within the Darling River between Bourke and Wilcannia due to variable flows, saline groundwater influx and evaporation, Journal of Hydrology 378: 313-324. ISSN 0022-1694, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.09.036.

R.I. Acworth, C.E. Hughes & I.L. Turner 2007. A radioisotope tracer investigation to determine the direction of groundwater movement adjacent to a tidal creek during a spring and neap tides. Hydrogeology Journal, 15: 281–296. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10040-006-0085-5

C. E. Hughes, P. L. Airey, E. B. Duran, B. M. Miller and E. Sombrito 2004. Using radiotracer techniques for coastal hydrodynamic model evaluation. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 76: 195-206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2004.03.026

Hughes, CE, Binning, P, Willgoose, GR. 1998. Characterisation of the hydrology of an estuarine wetland. Journal of Hydrology 211: 34-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0022-1694(98)00194-2