BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

An Early Warning System for Tracking Groundwater Contamination
Published: June 22, 2018
Posted: October 21, 2019

In Situ monitoring of groundwater contamination using the Kalman filter.

The Science
A real-time, in situ, “smart” monitoring and early warning system for migrating and reacting contaminant plumes was developed using a Kalman filter-based framework and successfully tested on a contaminant plume at the Savannah River Site.

The Impact
Because this framework enables easy integration of networked, autonomous, and inexpensive wellbore measurements with cloud computing, the approach is expected to reduce groundwater monitoring costs, increase confidence in the efficacy of monitored natural attenuation, and ensure an early response if needed.

A Kalman filter method was used to estimate contaminant concentrations continuously and in real time by coupling data-driven concentration decay models with data correlations. The approach was successfully demonstrated using historical groundwater data from the uranium- and tritium-contaminated F-Area of the Savannah River Site. Specific conductance and pH were used as proxy variables to estimate tritium and uranium concentrations over time. Results show that the developed method can estimate contaminant concentrations based on in situ, easily measured variables.

BER Program Manager
Paul Bayer
SC-23.1, 301-903-5324

Principal Investigator
Susan Hubbard
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

This material is based on work supported as part of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Science Focus Area, which is funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, within the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and as part of the Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management (ASCEM) project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management. Both efforts are under Award Number DE-AC02- 05CH11231 to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Franziska Schmidt was supported by the Jane Lewis Fellowship at University of California, Berkeley.

Schmidt, F., H. M. Wainwright, B. Faybishenko, M. Denham, and C. Eddy-Dilek. “In situ monitoring of groundwater contamination using the Kalman filter.” Environmental Science & Technology 52(13), 7418–25 (2018). [DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b00017]

Related Links

Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Legacy: Low Dose Radiation, Radiobiology
  • Legacy: Radiochemistry and Instrumentation

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)