|New Models Predict Underground Movement of Contaminants with Greater Precision|
To make sense out of the data collected at Superfund sites and in the Superfund Research Program labs, researchers need complex, accurate deterministic models. SRP Researchers Casey Miller and Bill Gray are developing and improving models that can help predict what will happen to contaminants at Superfund sites as they move underground, and to test the potential impact of different approaches to cleaning up the sites.
These are very complex chemicals and very complicated processes, Gray cautions, so he and Miller are constantly working with other researchers and computation experts to fine-tune these models to mimic more accurately what SRP researchers are actually seeing in the lab.
Miller and Gray have developed a new approach called Thermodynamically Constrained Averaging Theory (TCAT), a modeling method that takes into account processes occurring at both the most intricate levels and at larger scales. For instance, while measuring the movement of substances between individual grains of sand at Superfund sites would be impossible, TCAT can help tie together information taken at the individual-grain scale with data from entire columns of soil or from the field in a way that allows researchers to draw appropriate conclusions.
As Gray explains, "Modeling not only helps us understand how these contaminants move in the subsurface; they can also tell us what we don't know about the way the material behaves, which gives us insight into what experiments we still need to do"
|Last updated January 29, 2013|