- Copyright ©2004. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved.
Delineation and understanding the geology and hydrogeology of a contaminated site is a fundamental requirement for environmental remediation. Successful environmental remedial programs are composed of interdisciplinary teams of scientists, including geologists, engineers, chemists, mathematicians, biologists, and others. The approach employed is analogous to petroleum exploration that relies on an interdisciplinary team that bases their interpretations and recommendations on understanding the geological, depositional, and structural setting. Good interactive communication between disciplines is a necessary component to the success of both environmental and petroleum programs. In the environmental and petroleum industry, the selection and deployment of appropriate technologies for the problem rely on initial characterization activities. In the environmental arena, geology and hydrogeology control the migration of contaminant plumes and affect the performance of remediation technologies. At the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, which is underlain by interbedded and heterogeneous coastal-plain sediments, understanding depositional and postdepositional processes supports building a hydrogeological model and guides proper selection and optimization of remediation technologies. Accurately mapping the continuity of critical sediment layers can aid in locating areas where contamination has migrated and can provide a cost-effective basis for directing characterization to target intervals. This type of information can then be used to refine existing remediation systems or assist in designing new systems. A thorough understanding of the subsurface coupled with biological and/or chemical effects is essential for successful engineering implementation of the chosen technology. This paper will address an integrative and philosophical approach for environmental remediation and summarize local hydrogeology and background of a waste site at SRS. Examples will be discussed that relate geology to specific remediation technology and implementation decisions in the program.
Mary Harris is the geosciences manager for the Environmental Sciences and Technology Department at the Savannah River National Laboratory. She received her M.S. degree in geology from the University of Idaho and her Ph.D. in geological sciences from the University of South Carolina. One of her fundamental beliefs is that understanding the subsurface geology provides the base for successful remedial technology deployments.Brian B. Looney is an advisory scientist with the Savannah River National Laboratory. He has a B.S. degree in environmental science from Texas Christian University and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota. For the past 20 years, he has developed environmental characterization and remediation technologies for organic contaminants, metals, and radionuclides adhering to the concept of matching characterization and cleanup technologies to each site.
Dennis G. Jackson is a principle engineer at the Savannah River National Laboratory. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in mechanical engineering and is currently a completing a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in environmental engineering. His research interests include evaluation, development, and application of innovative characterization and remediation technologies.