2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


MACFARLANE, P. Allen1, TOWNSEND, Margaret A.1 and BOHLING, Geoffrey C.2, (1)Geohydrology Section, Kansas Geol Survey, University of Kansas, Campus West, 1930 Constant Ave, Lawrence, KS 66047, (2)Kansas Geological Survey, Univ of Kansas, 1930 Constant Avenue, Campus West, Lawrence, KS 66047, dowser@kgs.ku.edu

Environmental and earth science students seldom have an opportunity to apply what they learn in class to the solution of real-world problems. With NSF support we have developed the prototype Plume Busters (http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/GWtutor), in which students take on the role of an environmental consultant. The software consists of an interactive, Java application and accompanying HTML linked pages.

Following a pipeline spill, the environmental consultant is hired by the pipeline owner to locate the resulting plume created by the spill and remediate the contaminated aquifer at minimum monetary and time cost. The contamination must be removed from the aquifer before it reaches the river and eventually a downstream public water supply. The application simulates movement of a plume from a pipeline break through a shallow alluvial aquifer towards the river upstream from a municipal water supply intake. To locate the plume, the student places observation wells on a gridded map of the study area and the simulation returns the contaminant concentrations at those locations on the appropriate sample dates. Once the plume is located, the student is able to site pumping and injection wells on the map for aquifer remediation using a simple pump-and-treat technique. The simulation then computes the movement of particles to the pumping wells and returns the cumulative mass removed by the production remediation well.

The accompanying web pages establish the simulated contamination scenario and provide students with background material on ground-water flow and transport principles. To make the role-play more realistic, the student must consider cost and time when making decisions about siting observation wells and wells for the pump-and-treat remediation system. Installation and sampling of observation and installation and operation of production or injection wells has associated costs in terms of time and money. The time it takes to complete the remediation also depends on the type of wellfield design selected and well placement with respect to the plume.

Software evaluation indicates that (1) both students and instructors react positively to the software and (2) students learn the practical application of abstract ground-water concepts learned in the more traditional lecture-laboratory class settings.