Water and Environment Research

  • Quantification of ground-water flow and contaminant transport at multiple scales
  • Fate and transport of contaminants in the environment
  • Non-invasive geophysical characterize aquifer heterogeneities
  • Development of innovative inverse modeling strategies for enhanced imaging of fractured rock aquifer/reservoir properties
  • Groundwater and surface water interactions
  • Numerical groundwater flow modeling

In Their Own Words

Aquifer Heterogeneity and Contaminant Transport

Professor Allen-King: 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; and major cations and anions, and organic carbon content.

Physical Hydrogeology

Professor Lowry: My research focuses on quantifying the controls on groundwater flow in wetland ecosystems and how groundwater interacts with both surface water as well as vegetation. This work uses a range of tools to better understand how groundwater moves through the subsurface. These tools include monitoring wells, seepage meters, stream gaging, soil cores, near surface geophysical methods, and numerical modeling. I also have a particular interest in distributed sensing using temperature as a groundwater tracer.

Environmental Geophysics and Geostatistics

Professor Oware: My research interest is in the application of geophysical techniques, such as electrical resistivity (ER), thermal, and ground penetrating radar (GPR) to characterize aquifer heterogeneities and subsurface processes within a geostatistical inverse modeling framework. My major research objective is in the development of innovative inverse modeling strategies for improved imaging of fractured rock aquifer or reservoir properties, through numerical, lab, and field-scale experiments.