Charles W. Carlston, 72, a retired research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, died of congestive heart failure May 25 at a hospital in Waynesboro, Va. He was being treated at a Waynesboro area nursing home until shortly before his death.

Dr. Carlston was an authority on the interrelation of geomorphology and hydrology and was the author of about 40 technical works.

He was a native of Kokomo, Ind., and a 1936 graduate of the University of Washington. He earned a doctorate in geology at Columbia University.

He began his career with the Geological Survey in 1940 as a junior geologist. Over the years, he worked for that agency in Alabama, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. He came to Washington in 1957 and retired in 1971 as a reserch hydrologist in the water resources division.

Dr. Carlston also had taught geology, first at St. Lawrence University in New York for two years, and then at Oberlin College from 1947 to 1953. In the early 1950s, he spent about a year as geologist with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization in Pakistan.

He was a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Geophysical Union and the Association of American Geographers. He also was a member of Rock Spring Congregational Church in Arlington and Rotary International.

Survivors include his wife, the former Catherine Ball, of Arlington, and a daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Carlston of Alexandria.