CAREER: Integrating Research, Education, and Heterogeneity into Groundwater Models of Glaciated Urban Areas

Grant Details


CAREER: Integrating Research, Education, and Heterogeneity into Groundwater Models of Glaciated Urban Areas Lawrence D. Lemke, Wayne State University In the face of growing U.S. population in the 21st century, reliable numerical flow and transport models are essential tools for managing groundwater resources in expanding urbanized areas. The development of such models is particularly challenging in glaciated regions where depositional complexities make it difficult to predict the detailed three dimensional distributions of hydrostratigraphic units that control local scale groundwater flow and contaminant transport. This research project will apply alternative methods to model the spatial variability of physical attributes and quantify uncertainty in predicted groundwater flow and solute transport within an urban glacial aquifer system. Allostratigraphic correlation methods will be used to identify bounding surfaces and define the gross hydrostratigraphic architecture. Subsequently, geostatistical methods will be used to model smaller scale variability within the allostratigraphic correlation units. It is postulated that such hybrid models of aquifer variability will define a wider range of uncertainty in groundwater flow and contaminant transport predictions than that established by varying aquifer parameters or boundary conditions within a single, most-likely deterministic aquifer model. Uncertainty associated with alternative deterministic and stochastic conceptual models will also be assessed. The results of this research are expected to demonstrate that predictive uncertainty cannot be adequately quantified using a single deterministic geologic model. As a further outcome of the research activities, it is expected that hybrid deterministic and stochastic models will enjoy more frequent application and, as a consequence, our ability to predict and quantify uncertainties in the movement of contaminants through highly heterogeneous aquifer systems will improve. The research will be conducted at Wayne State University, a prominent urban research institution serving 33,000 students, located in a glaciated region with an expanding metropolitan area and a long history of industrial activity. The accompanying Education Plan will strengthen the Environmental Science Program at Wayne State while training a new generation of students (including underrepresented minorities) with the critical skills needed to build hybrid numerical models of heterogeneous aquifer systems. Because Wayne State?s undergraduate student body consists of 37% minority students (33% African-American), this project will impact a diverse cross-section of students. A combination of field trips, peer mentoring, and learning communities will be used to attract and retain underrepresented minority students to the Geology and Environmental Science Programs. In addition, approximately 1,000 general education students and 20 to 30 Geology and Environmental Science majors will be exposed to problem-based learning activities associated with the proposed research each year. By helping to bridge the gap of minority under-representation in science, this project will help meet the growing U.S. demand for science and engineering graduates.

Effective start/end date09/15/0808/31/15


  • National Science Foundation: $418,246.00
  • National Science Foundation: $333,256.00


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