WATER IN SURFACE ENVIRONMENTS
Water is crucial to human existence, and access to safe drinking water will be an increasingly difficult problem for human societies. Water can also be a threat in the form of floods or mass movements of soil and water. As we move our cities into less stable environments, human populations suffer greater losses from these hazards.
WATER QUALITY. The chemical makeup of water is crucial both for human health and for industrial applications. This site covers the geochemistry of metals in distribution systems arising from corrosion of brass, copper, iron and lead components; the geochemistry of metals in contaminated groundwater; and the chemical properties of various bottled waters.
MINING. The same geochemical principles apply to understanding the genesis of sedimentary ore deposits; to exploration for them; to their extraction; and to mine closure. In addition, water poses a considerable threat from failures of mine waste structures and from water contamination, especially acid mine drainage.
VOLCANOES. Volcanic processes involve large amounts of water both inside the mountain and as glaciers on its top. This water often combines with rock and soil to form exceeding dangerous debris flows -- lahars -- that have caused enormous loss of life in some areas and pose a significant threat to population centers in the US Northwest such as Seattle and Portland.
FLOODING. Flooding of inland areas from rivers and of coastal areas from hurricanes is one of our greatest challenges from natural hazards. As sea level rises with warming of the earth, coastal flooding will become more and more severe. New Orleans is a city at the confluence of river and coastal flood hazards, and is an early example of the problems many cities will face in the future.