Multi-Scale Mass Transfer Processes Controlling Natural Attenuation and Engineered Remediation: An IFRC Focused on Hanford’s 300 Area Uranium Plume

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The Integrated Field-Scale Subsurface Research Challenge (IFRC) at the Hanford Site 300 Area uranium (U) plume addresses multi-scale mass transfer processes in a complex hydrogeologic setting where groundwater and riverwater interact. A series of forefront science questions on mass transfer are posed for research which relate to the effect of spatial heterogeneities; the importance of scale; coupled interactions between biogeochemical, hydrologic, and mass transfer processes; and measurements and approaches needed to characterize and model a mass-transfer dominated system. The project was initiated in February 2007, with CY 2007 and CY 2008 progress summarized in preceding reports. The site has 35 ... continued below

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Zachara, John M.; Bjornstad, Bruce N.; Christensen, John N.; Conrad, Mark E.; Fredrickson, Jim K.; Freshley, Mark D. et al. February 1, 2010.

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The Integrated Field-Scale Subsurface Research Challenge (IFRC) at the Hanford Site 300 Area uranium (U) plume addresses multi-scale mass transfer processes in a complex hydrogeologic setting where groundwater and riverwater interact. A series of forefront science questions on mass transfer are posed for research which relate to the effect of spatial heterogeneities; the importance of scale; coupled interactions between biogeochemical, hydrologic, and mass transfer processes; and measurements and approaches needed to characterize and model a mass-transfer dominated system. The project was initiated in February 2007, with CY 2007 and CY 2008 progress summarized in preceding reports. The site has 35 instrumented wells, and an extensive monitoring system. It includes a deep borehole for microbiologic and biogeochemical research that sampled the entire thickness of the unconfined 300 A aquifer. Significant, impactful progress has been made in CY 2009 with completion of extensive laboratory measurements on field sediments, field hydrologic and geophysical characterization, four field experiments, and modeling. The laboratory characterization results are being subjected to geostatistical analyses to develop spatial heterogeneity models of U concentration and chemical, physical, and hydrologic properties needed for reactive transport modeling. The field experiments focused on: (1) physical characterization of the groundwater flow field during a period of stable hydrologic conditions in early spring, (2) comprehensive groundwater monitoring during spring to characterize the release of U(VI) from the lower vadose zone to the aquifer during water table rise and fall, (3) dynamic geophysical monitoring of salt-plume migration during summer, and (4) a U reactive tracer experiment (desorption) during the fall. Geophysical characterization of the well field was completed using the down-well Electrical Resistance Tomography (ERT) array, with results subjected to robust, geostatistically constrained inversion analyses. These measurements along with hydrologic characterization have yielded 3D distributions of hydraulic properties that have been incorporated into an updated and increasingly robust hydrologic model. Based on significant findings from the microbiologic characterization of deep borehole sediments in CY 2008, down-hole biogeochemistry studies were initiated where colonization substrates and spatially discrete water and gas samplers were deployed to select wells. The increasingly comprehensive field experimental results, along with the field and laboratory characterization, are leading to a new conceptual model of U(VI) flow and transport in the IFRC footprint and the 300 Area in general, and insights on the microbiological community and associated biogeochemical processes. A significant issue related to vertical flow in the IFRC wells was identified and evaluated during the spring and fall field experimental campaigns. Both upward and downward flows were observed in response to dynamic Columbia River stage. The vertical flows are caused by the interaction of pressure gradients with our heterogeneous hydraulic conductivity field. These impacts are being evaluated with additional modeling and field activities to facilitate interpretation and mitigation. The project moves into CY 2010 with ambitious plans for a drilling additional wells for the IFRC well field, additional experiments, and modeling. This research is part of the ERSP Hanford IFRC at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-19209
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1033090 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1033090
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc829478

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  • February 1, 2010

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 1:44 p.m.

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Zachara, John M.; Bjornstad, Bruce N.; Christensen, John N.; Conrad, Mark E.; Fredrickson, Jim K.; Freshley, Mark D. et al. Multi-Scale Mass Transfer Processes Controlling Natural Attenuation and Engineered Remediation: An IFRC Focused on Hanford’s 300 Area Uranium Plume, report, February 1, 2010; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc829478/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.