NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair

Groundwater Contamination in Fractured Media

Dr. Beth L. Parker

The Chair Research is directed at intensive field investigations at four industrial sites with long-term (20-60 years) contamination with Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs) in sedimentary bedrock: two dolostone sites in Canada (Cambridge and Guelph, Ontario) and two sandstone sites in the United States (California and Wisconsin). These field studies build off previous research conducted by Dr. Parker and her collaborators over the past 20 years.  A goal of this research is to comprehensively determine present-day three-dimensional contaminant distributions at the four field sites and use this information to understand contaminant migration in fractured media.  This information can then be applied to the arduous task of remediating thousands contaminated groundwater sites throughout North America and the rest of the World.

Mathematical models (computer codes) are used to simulate the migration of contaminants through time and geologic space. This research generates sufficient quantities of real-world data to allow for reliable comparison between the field realities and the model results; a step that evades most researchers.  Although this research primarily involves a particular category of industrial chemicals, it has broad relevance to many other types of groundwater contamination.

Research Themes

  1. Delineation of 3-D contaminant distributions in fractured rock
  2. Field scale determination of 3-D distributions of hydraulic head, hydraulic conductivity and natural flow
  3. Development and field verification of new methods for investigating fractured rock sites using the DFN Approach
  4. Examination of the role of natural contaminant degradation via abiotic and/or biotic mechanisms on plume behaviour
  5. Simulation of plumes using DFN numerical models
  6. Data integration for assessment/verification of the conceptual model for sedimentary rock systems