Richelle Allen-King


PhD, Earth Sciences (Hydrogeology), University of Waterloo – 1991

415 Cooke Hall
(716) 645-4287



Research Interests

My main research interests are understanding and integrating the basic processes which control the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment, particularly in groundwater. Our current understanding of these processes, or lack thereof, limits our ability to predict natural fate and to plan and conduct appropriate remediation of contaminated sites. Most of my current research has to do with transport and/or transformation of organic contaminants, including chlorinated solvents, hydrocarbons, pesticides and--recently--personal care products. This encompasses a broad range of problems. For example, our group is currently engaged in a study which tests how geologic-process based knowledge can improve our understanding of the composition and variability of aquifer properties as they relate to pollutant transport. In another study, we are investigating the transport pathways by which agricultural chemicals move within and out watersheds. One more example looks at how chemical oxidants used to remediate groundwater contaminants affect and are affected by the natural groundwater system. In addition to field investigation, my research includes laboratory experiments using gas chromatography for analysis of the organic compounds of interest. Analyses of sediments and water can also include: grain size; mineralogy; surface area and fraction organic carbon content; major cations and anions; and organic carbon content.

Course Offerings

  • GLY 462/562 - Advanced Environmental Geochemistry
  • GLY 499 - Independent Study
  • GLY 526 - Geology for Graduate Students
  • GLY 568 - Environmental Organic Geochemistry
  • GLY 599 - Supervised Teaching
  • GLY 633 - Graduate Research
  • GLY 700 - Thesis Guidance

Current Students

  • Valerio Barbarossa - MS
  • Jonathan Brotsch - MS
  • Mary Masse - PhD
  • Augusto Merlo - MS

Recent Former Students

  • Sierra Anseeuw - MS (2014) – Thesis title: “Nitrate processing in two Western New York gravel streams.”
  • David Carlone - MA (2013) – Project title: “A method to measure the release rate of TCE from sedimentary rock grains using a commercial purge.”; Currently employed by URS Corporation as a Staff Scientist.
  • Star George - M.S.
  • Timothy Holling -MA (2013) – Project title: “Novel method for detecting sulfur hexafluoride sorption in materials with high organic carbon content.”
  • Zach Munger - MS (2012) – Thesis title: “Modeling nonlinear sorption of TCE in kerogen rich sorbents.”
  • Amie Whitlock - MA (2014) – Project title: “Experimental investigation into the effect of contaminant concentration on dual mode sorption of TCE on Borden, Ontario aquifer source rocks.”


Recent Publications

Singh^, A., R. M. Allen-King, and A.J. Rabideau. 2014. Groundwater transport modeling with nonlinear sorption and intraparticle diffusion, Advances in Water Resources, doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2014.04.010, In press.Ritzi, Jr., R.W., L. Huang, R. Ramanathan, and R.M. Allen-King. 2013. Horizontal spatial correlation of hydraulic and reactive transport parameters as related to hierarchical sedimentary architecture at the Borden research site. Water Resour. Res., 49(4), 1901-1913, doi: 10.1002/wrcr.20165.

Wang*, G., R.M. Allen-King, S. Choung*, S. Feenstra, R. Watson, and M. Kominek. 2013. A practical measurement strategy to estimate nonlinear chlorinated solvent sorption in low foc sediments. Ground Water Monit. Remediat., 33(1), 87-96, doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6592.2012.01413.x

Kalinovich*, I., R.M. Allen-King, and K. Thomas*. 2012. Distribution of carbonaceous matter in lithofacies: Impacts on HOC sorption nonlinearity. J. Contamin. Hydrol., 133: 84-93, DOI:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2012.03.007.

Choung*, S., and R.M. Allen-King. 2010. Can chlorofluorocarbon sorption to black carbon (char) affect groundwater age determinations? Environ. Sci. Technol.,44 (12):4459-4464, DOI: 10.1021/es100620g.

Moravec^, B.G., C.K. Keller, J.L. Smith, R.M. Allen-King, A.J. Goodwin*, J. Fairley, and P.B. Larson. 2010. Oxygen-18 dynamics in precipitation and streamflow in a semi-arid agricultural watershed, Eastern Washington., USA. Hydrological Processes, 24(4): 446-460, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.7515

Ramanathan* R., R.W. Ritzi Jr., and R.M. Allen-King. 2010. Linking hierarchical stratal architecture to plume spreading in a Lagrangian-based transport model: 2. Evaluation using new data from the Borden site, Water Resour. Res.,46(1), W01510, DOI: 10.1029/2009WR007810.

Keller, C. K., C. N. Butcher^, J. L. Smith, and R. M. Allen-King, 2008. Nitrate in tile drainage in the semi-arid Palouse basin, J. Environ. Qual., 37(2):353-361, DOI: 10.2134/jeq2006.0515.

Corbin^, J. F., A. L. Teel, R. M. Allen-King, and R. J. Watts, 2007. Reactive oxygen species responsible for the enhanced desorption of dodecane in modified Fenton’s systems, Water Environ. Res., 79(1), 37-42.

Ritzi, R. W., Jr., and R. M. Allen-King, 2007. Why did Sudicky [1986] find an exponential-like spatial correlation structure for hydraulic conductivity at the Borden research site?, Water Resour. Res., 43, W01406, DOI:10.1029/2006WR004935.

Rivett, M.O., S.W. Chapman, R.M. Allen-King, S. Feenstra, and J.A. Cherry. 2006. Pump-and-treat remediation of chlorinated solvent contamination at a controlled field-experiment site. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40(21), 6770-6781. DOI: 10.1021/es0602748.

Allen-King, R.M., D.P. Divine*, M.J.L. Robin, J.R., Alldredge, and D.R. Gaylord, 2006. Spatial distributions of perchloroethylene (PCE) reactive transport parameters in the Borden aquifer. Water Resour. Res., 42(1), W01413, DOI: 10.1029/2005WR003977

Mumford^, K.G., N.R. Thomson, and R.M. Allen-King, 2005. Bench-scale investigation of permanganate natural oxidant demand kinetics. Environ. Sci. Technol, 39(8): 2835-2840.

McLeod^, P.B., M.J. van den Huevel-Greve, R.M. Allen-King, S.N. Luoma, and R.G. Luthy, 2004. Effects of particulate carbonaceous matter on the bioavailability of benzo[a]pyrene and 2,2′,5,5′-tetrachlorobiphenyl to the clam, Macoma balthica. Environ. Sci. Technol., 38:4549-4556.

*Students & post-doctoral scholars

^Students of colleagues with significant support

**Corresponding author