Environmental Research at LDEO 
FY 1994 $115,000 
FY 1995 $70,000 
FY 1996 $70,000 
FY 1997 $70,000

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Project Description and Goals: Strategic Initiative funds supported the initial development of new hydrological capabilities at LDEO. In September of 1993, Lamont-Doherty's Geochemistry group requested support for research development activities aimed at broadening the Institute's environmental agenda. They proposed a two-year funding period for six groups of scientists and graduate students to undertake the following projects: gas exchange experiments in the Hudson River and in estuaries; shallow groundwater research; numerical modeling of water flow and transport of tracers and pollutants in the unsaturated soil zone and in shallow aquifers; hardware and software support for geophysical studies; unsaturated soil zone research; and an upgrade to a chemistry laboratory.

Status and Accomplishments

FY 1994: The project team designed and constructed a new gas chromatographic system for measurement of sulfurhexafluoride (SF-6) and tested it in a pilot study on the Hudson River. The system allows the labeling of certain water parcels (e.g., waste water outlets) in rivers and estuaries and tracing their spread over periods of several weeks. This is an advance over conventional dyes such as rhodamine both in methodology (SF-6 can be followed for longer periods of time) and in costs (SF-6 is roughly a factor of ten cheaper than rhodamine). During the SF-6 release experiment, a second gas (Helium-3) was added to the released SF-6 in order to quantify the exchange of gaseous substances between the water and the atmosphere.

The shallow groundwater research project included implementation of modeling capability and the use of hardware and software to run groundwater flow models. This modeling capability, in combination with analytical facilities for measurement of tracers of groundwater flow, allows the performance of quantitative studies of groundwater flow and the application of the results of these studies to assessment of pollutant transport. Additional components of groundwater research included measurements of tracers in several groundwater flow systems and support of the sabbatical of Dr. Allen Shapiro, a hydrologist from the USGS (Dr. Shapiro spent one year at LDEO). Finally, the seed money was used to purchase hardware for research in the unsaturated soil zone, as well as for an upgrade of the chemistry laboratory.

FY 1995: Three proposals were written for support of the above activities. Additional proposals will be drafted as the projects continue. The Keck Foundation awarded a grant of $245,000 for the "Acquisition of a Mass Spectrometric System for Geochemistry Research." Eventual USGS funding is expected. This grant supports the continuation and expansion of the development of an environmental science research program at LDEO.

FY 1996: Proposals were submitted relative to a number of activities. Thus far, grants total approximately $1,650,000. Research grants to date are as follows: Hudson River Foundation $15,000; U.S. Geological Survey $ (multiple grants); National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration $25,000; National Science Foundation OCE $185,000; and Office of Naval Research $100,000.

FY 1997: Fundraising activities in FY 1997 included securing the following grants: NSF GER $225,000; NSF OPP $290,000; NASA Fellowship $66,000; and University of E. Anglia, UK $70,000.

Activities over FY 1997 included the following:

Project Leader: Peter Schlosser, Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences