Functionally, the methods for addressing contamination must remove and/or reduce transport or toxicity of contaminants. This problem is particularly challenging in arid environments where the vadose zone can be up to hundreds of feet thick, rendering transitional excavation methods exceedingly costly and ineffective. Delivery of remedial amendments is one of the most challenging and critical aspects for all remedy-based approaches. The conventional approach for delivery is through injection of aqueous remedial solutions. However, heterogeneous vadose zone environments present hydrologic and geochemical challenges that limit the effectiveness. Because the flow of solution infiltration is dominantly controlled by gravity and suction, injected liquid preferentially percolates through highly permeable pathways, by-passing low-permeability zones which frequently contain the majority of the contamination. Moreover, the wetting front can readily mobilize and enhance contaminant transport to underlying aquifers prior to stabilization. Development of innovative, in-situ technologies may be the only way to meet remedial action objectives and long-term stewardship goals. Shear-thinning fluids (i.e., surfactants) can be used to lower the liquid surface tension and create stabile foams, which readily penetrate low permeability zones. Although surfactant foams have been utilized for subsurface mobilization efforts in the oil and gas industry, so far, the concept of using foams as a delivery mechanism for transporting reactive remedial amendments into deep vadose zone environments to stabilize metal and long-lived radionuclide contaminants has not been explored. Foam flow can be directed by pressure gradients, rather than being dominated by gravity; and, foam delivery mechanisms limit the volume of water (< 20% vol.) required for remedy delivery and emplacement, thus mitigating contaminant mobilization. We will present the results of a numerical modeling and integrated laboratory-/intermediate-scale investigation to simulate, develop, demonstrate, and monitor (i.e. advanced geophysical techniques and advanced predictive microbial markers) foam-based delivery of remedial amendments to remediate metals and radionuclides in vadose zone environments.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.