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Chairholder Profile

Beth Parker

Beth Parker

School of Engineering
University of Guelph

Chair Title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Fractured Rock Contaminant Hydrology

Chair Program

Industrial Research Chairs program

Role

Senior Chairholder since 2007

Summary

Groundwater in sedimentary bedrock (i.e., bedrock aquifers) is the most important source of fresh water in Canada and globally; however, many of these aquifers are polluted due to a large variety of human activities. Chlorinated organic solvents are the most common industrial contaminant found in groundwater. Little is known about how subsurface conditions affect movement of these contaminants from source areas to receptors because of over-reliance on poor characterization tools.

Dr. Parker, NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC) since 2007, has overcome these limitations using new technologies and detailed field and laboratory measurements applied to real contaminated sites. Dr. Parker and her research team have shown that pollutants move quickly from their source through rock fractures, but they are are slowed by spreading into the bedrock pores accessed through many active fractures, where they are sorbed to minerals and slowly degrade due to naturally occurring chemical and microbial reactions. Over many decades the plumes become stationary or even retreat back toward source areas.

During the current term, the IRC will use measurement and computer modelling insights to predict future conditions and rates of natural or enhanced remediation to hasten cleanup. Results will be useful for sedimentary rock aquifers worldwide, informing decisions on groundwater contamination threats to water supply wells and ecosystems, and on how to protect both.

This work enables reliable, cost-effective management and eventual cleanup of polluted sites, and it positions Canadians as world leaders in groundwater science, technology manufacturing and resource protection. This is achieved through hands-on student training at real-world sites and improved methods and technologies for protecting a global resource that is critical for sustaining life, as well as supporting food production and manufacturing.

Partners

  • The Boeing Company
  • Dow Chemical Canada Inc.
  • Hydrite Chemical Co.
  • Syngenta Canada Inc.

Contact Information

School of Engineering
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario

Tel.: 519-824-4120, ext. 53642
Fax: 519-836-0227
Email: bparker@uoguelph.ca