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Inspiring and Engaging the Next Generation

On April 26th and 27th G360 participated in the campus wide Interaction conference for Grade 10 and 11 students. Approximately 900 students from all over Southern Ontario attended this conference to participate in unique workshops and have new experiences at the University of Guelph. At this conference G360 was proud to offer our new workshop:

“Wanted: Environmental Scientists Interested in Water Resources”

In this interactive and hands-on workshop, newly designed by Tara Harvey, students were able to put their detective, scientific, and engineering skills to the test by solving a groundwater contaminated site ‘mystery’. The workshop was a theoretical scenario that hydrogeologists at G360 may encounter, scaled down to fit inside a classroom. Students had one hour to collect background data, perform geologic investigations, take hydraulic measurements, and conduct laboratory tests on ‘contaminated’ groundwater samples; basically cramming months worth of work into a very small amount of time.

For most of the students this was their first time really learning about groundwater and groundwater investigations. After completing the workshop, each student can now walk away with a new perspective and knowledge of groundwater research, the investigative tools and methods used, and the types of questions scientists ask.

In an interdisciplinary field of research we encouraged the students to explore their passions and consider how they can contribute to groundwater research in each of their desired fields.

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High school students testing ‘groundwater’ samples from the ‘site’ to determine the presence or absence of contaminants (salt).
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High school students using standard methods to collect hydraulic data (water levels) from the 8 wells at the ‘site’
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High school students collecting background data from the ‘contaminated site’
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Aquifer demo showing the impacts of various geologic materials on groundwater and contaminant flow
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Groundwater samples for analysis from 7 of the 8 wells at the ‘site’.
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A ‘contaminated’ groundwater sample containing salt.
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Potentially Explosive Methane Gas Mobile in Groundwater, Poses Safety Risk: Study

Researchers from G360, The University of British Columbia, and The University of Calgary’s latest paper on Methane Gas has received a lot of attention. Their latest paper was recently featured on the University of Guelph’s Website: http://news.uoguelph.ca/2017/04/potentially-explosive-methane-gas-highly-mobile-groundwater-poses-safety-risk/

The Nature Geoscience Article can be found here.

Abstract: Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment

Cahill, A.G., Steelman, C., Forde, O., Kuloyo, O., Ruff, S.E., Mayer, B., Mayer, K.U., Strous, M., Ryan, M.C., Cherry, J.A., Parker, B.L.

Expansion of shale gas extraction has fuelled global concern about the potential impact of fugitive methane on groundwater and climate. Although methane leakage from wells is well documented, the consequences on groundwater remain sparsely studied and are thought by some to be minor. Here we present the results of a 72-day methane gas injection experiment into a shallow, flat-lying sand aquifer. In our experiment, although a significant fraction of methane vented to the atmosphere, an equal portion remained in the groundwater. We find that methane migration in the aquifer was governed by subtle grain-scale bedding that impeded buoyant free-phase gas flow and led to episodic releases of free-phase gas. The result was lateral migration of gas beyond that expected by groundwater advection alone. Methane persisted in the groundwater zone despite active growth of methanotrophic bacteria, although much of the methane that vented into the vadose zone was oxidized. Our findings demonstrate that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.