New Model Improves Prediction of Contaminant Movement


The conventional approach for monitoring contaminant movement in groundwater is to drill monitoring boreholes and watch the groundwater for contaminants—a time-consuming and expensive approach subject to uncertainties regarding the direction or depth of contaminant movement. Moreover, in areas of high rainfall or recharge, contaminant movement can be greatly influenced by significant recharge events. A team of scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of Tennessee collaborated to develop a modeling approach that couples time-lapse electrical resistivity data with hydrogeochemical data and processes. The team validated the model using data from a location within DOE’s Oak Ridge Integrated Field Research Challenge site in Oak Ridge, TN, demonstrating that they could accurately simulate recharge events for this location using this coupled approach. Estimates from this model are now being used to constrain the site-wide model.


Kowalsky, M. B., E. Gasperikova, S. Finsterle, D. Watson, G. Baker, and S. S. Hubbard. 2011. “Coupled Modeling of Hydrogeochemical and Electrical Resistivity Data for Exploring the Impact of Recharge on Subsurface Contamination,” Water Resources Research doi:10.1029/2009WR008947.