By Mahmoud Mostafa Khalil
Under the sponsorship of Friends of UTokyo organization, a quite rigorous and real interesting six weeks I have spent at western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA to participate in an intensive summer training program in applied hydrogeology named Hydrogeology Field Course (HFC) from 7/7 to 8/16/2014. This course is led by instructors from Western Michigan University, hydrogeologists, and scientists from other universities and consulting companies lead trips and exercises in their particular expertise. This intensive course is designed to give the student a working knowledge of the methods and concepts of field hydrogeology, and to provide the opportunity to understand and resolve the field data. This knowledge and experience is what I am really looking for as my PhD study at University of Tokyo, Japan concerned with groundwater environmental problems. I did not find other USA universities offer such a detailed groundwater field hydrogeology methods and that makes it unique. Modules of six weeks include surface geophysics, HAZWOPER, aquifer testing, groundwater sampling and monitoring, well drilling and installation, and remediation design and implementation respectively. The interesting thing in these modules is covering all the groundwater studies aspects from exploration tools, sampling and evaluation, and finally suggested remediation measures for contaminated groundwater aquifers. A variety of trips, site visits, lectures, field exercises, written reports and presentations is held each week. To clearly exhibit how these activities look, I am going to describe briefly each module and the associated activities together with photos;
Surface geophysics (1st week)
A series of lectures about surface geophysical techniques (e.g. gravity, magnetic, electric, electromagnetic, seismic and ground penetrating radar) followed by visiting two sites nearby the campus and did a number of geophysical surveys. The main information that we could get from doing such surveys is depth to groundwater determination and detecting abnormal subsurface locations.
HAZWOPER (2nd week)
My second week of the summer course is so interesting where we had a training called HAZWOPER, a term standing for ‘’HAZardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response’’. Hazardous waste discarded chemicals that are toxic, flammable or corrosive can cause fires, explosions and pollution of air, water and land. Emergency response procedures for each hazardous waste site or treatment, storage and disposal facility must be carried out. These procedures have three main criteria, i.e. site evaluation and control, site specific health and safety plan as well personal protective equipment. A field visit for a number of contaminated sites to outline the potential hazards and put the remediation and response plan in addition to training on personal protective equipment are done during this week.
Aquifer testing (3rd week)
Principles and practices of aquifer testing is the main theme of the third week from the Hydrogeology Field course of WMU during this 2014 summer. We visited two sites to perform pumping and slug tests to groundwater aquifers in order to deduce the aquifer parameters which will help to manage the future uses of aquifer.
Groundwater sampling and monitoring (4th week)
Low flow sampling , push point sampling, bailer sampling are the different techniques that we applied during this week aiming to get a representative groundwater samples from the aquifer. In addition to we measured the physical (e.g. PH, ORP, DO and ORP) and chemical (e.g. Ca-hardness, total hardness, alkalinity and redox sensitive elements) parameters to get a full picture about the validity of the groundwater for different uses and making sure about no contamination occurred.
Well drilling and installation (5th week)
Steps of well drilling and installation are learned through this week. Different types of drilling equipment we explored. Two wells were drilled during the activities of this week. During the drilling process, we were making a description for the collected cores and record the data in lithologic log sheets.
Remediation design and implementation (6th week)
This week is assigned for discussing how to remediate contaminated aquifers? Different remediation technologies we learned from this class. A field visit for a contaminated site to declare a report about the surface hazards for groundwater (phase I assessment) is involved during this week. Also, all students divided into 5 groups to make a presentation for their reports and propose the suitable remediation techniques to remediate the soil and groundwater with calculating the total budget of remediation project.
Actually, this summer course adds much to my knowledge and helps me to gain the required experience to complete my PhD thesis in a professional way. Finally, I am greatly indebted to Friends of UTokyo organization and their members for supporting and encouraging me during this summer to participate in this amazing summer course.