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Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Defensible Science-Based Conceptual and Implementation Models

Understanding problem specific subsurface controls (geologic, hydrologic, geochemical, and microbiologic) are key to developing science-based conceptual models and defensible simplifications to predict how the subsurface will respond to natural and anthropogenic events. Whether in support of deep geologic storage (e.g. carbon sequestration, compressed air storage, aquifer thermal storage, nuclear waste sequestration) or production (e.g. enhanced oil recovery, geothermal energy) or near surface environmental restoration, defensible representations of the subsurface and predictive models are necessary for science-based decision making.

Understanding contaminant release, distribution and transport is critical to determining interim and final disposition solutions for waste management and disposal facilities. The first step in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Data Quality Objective (DQO) Process is to state the problem. EPA QA/G-4 states that It is critical to carefully develop an accurate conceptual model of the environmental problem in this step of the DQO Process, as this model will serve as the basis for all subsequent inputs and decisions. Errors in the development of the conceptual model will be perpetuated throughout the other steps of the DQO Process..."

PNNL's Geosciences Group is dedicated to the development of scientifically defensible conceptual models and problem specific simplifcations to support predictive assessments. Sound site characterization, data management, and data synthesis are keys to resolving technical issues and preparing defensible conceptual models and assessment-specific data packages. This is an iterative process conducted in coordination with conceptual model development, performance assessment and decision-making.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas