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ARCHIVE - EES Division Highlights/Accomplishments


December 21, 2005

One of the great, unsolved problems in explosion seismology today is the source mechanism(s) of shear wave generation by underground explosions. Even though these mechanisms are poorly understood theoretically, verification seismologists have continued to develop a host of empirical techniques for discriminating earthquakes and explosions and estimating their source size using S-wave (shear) energy appearing on distant seismograms. However, the gulf between theory and practice undermines the confidence to do monitoring effectively, particularly in broad areas where there are few seismic events to calibrate these techniques. In a recent paper published in Geophysical Journal International, H. Patton of EES-11, J. Bonner of Weston Geophysical Corp., and I. Gupta of Multimax, Inc. have developed a key insight into one of the favored mechanisms of S wave generation, thus offering the prospect of a theoretical basis to improve broad-area monitoring. This mechanism involves seismic scattering of large, short-period surface waves by heterogeneities in the Earth and conversion into S body waves that are recorded at distant stations and analyzed for information about the source. A key to understanding this scattering mechanism is knowledge of how the surface waves, called Rg, are excited by explosions. By analyzing Rg waves recorded very close to chemical blasts detonated at a former Soviet test site in Kazakhstan in 1997, Patton et al. were able to show that Rg waves are excited by driven block motions associated with tensile failure over the explosion source. This finding will allow the construction of better models to test the Rg-to-S scattering hypothesis and may, as a spin off, solve an old mystery concerning anomalous surface wave observations from Kazakhstan nuclear explosions in the late 70's, early 80's.

December 14, 2005

EES Conducts Tours of Yucca Mountain

On November 29, Dick Kovach (EES-7) briefed a group from New Hampshire (State Representative, State Treasurer, Department of Safety, Governor’s Office, etc.). On November 30, he briefed a group from the Nuclear Energy Institute/Exelon (they have 10 generating stations with 17 reactors, which represents about 20 per cent of the nuclear generating capacity in the U.S.) and a large group of representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

On December 5, Brian Dozier (EES-7) conducted briefings for three groups of visitors: Clark County Comprehensive Planning, Ministry of Commerce, Trade & Industry (JAPAN), and participants from the POWER-GEN International Conference. On December 7, Dozier hosted a large group of representatives and dignitaries from the Atomic Safety & Licensing Board/Nuclear Regulatory Commission (including Federal Protective Service, Counsel for DOE, Counsel for State of Nevada).

Dick Kovach conducted tours on December 7 and 8 for two groups of visitors. The first group was from OCRWM Office of Science and Technology, DOE; Colorado School of Mines; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The second group consisted of 13 representatives from the Nevada State Board of Health and approximately 25 new employees from Sandia National Laboratories.

The information included an overview of geology, results of testing activities and repository layout. The groups toured the entire tunnel, approximately 4.9 miles. The tours also included a stop at the Drift Scale Test about 1.75 miles into the tunnel where a test on the effects of long term heating of the repository rock is being conducted.

December 7, 2005

LANL receives Full Accreditation from Association for Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Science (AAALAC)
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at LANL received Full Accreditation, which is given to institutions around the world that show superior animal care and welfare in all research activities involving animals. Re-Accreditation is required every five years with a site-visit and facility inspection. The IACUC is operated under the Institutional Official, Carolyn Mangeng (AD-TS) and the Chair, Jeanne Fair (EES-2). During the week of November 7th, the entire IACUC committee attended the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science meeting in St. Louis, MO for training in animal welfare policies and procedures.

EES Staff Members Present Poster at SC/05 Conference
SC|05 is the International conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis. The conference was held at Washington State Convention and Trade Center Seattle, WA. Richard Tran Mills (ORNL) and Chuan Lu and Peter C. Lichtner (EES-6) presented a posted titled, “PFLOTRAN: A massively parallel simulator for reactive flows in geologic media.” They have developed a massively parallel 3-D reservoir simulator, PFLOTRAN, which can model multiphase reactive flows in geologic formations based on continuum scale mass and energy conservation equations. The poster described PFLOTRAN and detailed its performance on the Cray XT3 (and other architectures). They presented insights into two problems (fingering patterns in CO2 injection, and thermal plumes arising from underground nuclear tests) made possible by the massive computational power provided by Jaguar, the 5294 processor XT3 at ORNL/NCCS.

Nuclear Testing Limitation Meeting (NTL) in Las Vegas
Ken Wohletz (EES-11) organized and led an NTL meeting at the Nevada Support Facility in Las Vegas. The meeting was attended by representatives of LLNL, PNNL, SNL, BN, NTS, and DOE/NA-241. The objective of the meeting was to develop a coordinated schedule for transparency monitoring of the Centaur and Unicorn sub-critical experiments (SCE) planned to take place at U6c. U6c is an unused inventory hole of previous nuclear testing, and the planned SCEs will involve most of the surface equipment and support that was typical of nuclear testing prior to the moratorium. For these reasons demonstrating the feasibility of monitoring for confidence building and transparency is highly desirable. Aviva Sussman (EES-11) made a presentation on development of a field information management system designed to integrate the results of various geophysical, radiological, and geological monitoring activities.

Volcanic Risk Assessment for Yucca Mountain Repository
Recent publications and a session at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference highlight significant progress in assessing the probability and consequences of volcanic eruptions at Yucca Mountain, the proposed site of the Nation's first high-level radioactive waste repository. EES Division staff members, Frank Perry, Allen Cogbill, and Rick Kelley described new geophysical and drilling data aimed at identifying volcanoes buried by sediments in the Yucca Mountain Region (Perry et al., 2005, Eos Transactions of the American Geophysical Union, v. 86, p. 486), which is an important factor in estimating the probability of future eruptions. Work on the physical characteristics of the Lathrop Wells volcano, which is the youngest (~80,000 years old) in the region, shows that it was produced by a complex sequence of eruption styles, which it turn has implications for defining the consequences of a potential eruption at the repository (G. Valentine, D. Krier, F. Perry, G. Heiken, 2005, Geology, v. 33, p. 629-632). The mixture of gas and particles that characterizes the eruptive processes demands a multiphase approach to modeling consequences. Results of 2-D, time dependent, multiphase simulations of magma interacting with underground tunnels at the repository were recently published by S. Dartevelle and G. Valentine (2005, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 32, doi:10.1029/2005GL024172). A major session at the annual AGU Conference is focused on volcanic risk assessment, and the LANL team will be presenting several papers on a range of issues including: general volcanic risk assessment, event probabilities, magma-tunnel interaction, multiphase eruption modeling, volcanic plume dispersal, plumbing of basaltic volcanic systems, and the effects of post-eruptive surficial processes on the fate of volcanic deposits.

November 23, 2005

Rousell-Dupre Fellows' Prize Recipient for Outstanding Research
Robert Roussel-Dupre, EES-2, was selected to receive the Los Alamos Fellows Prize for Outstanding Research in Science or Engineering for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of upward propagating lightning discharges, in particular through the universally accepted theory of electron runaway breakdown initiated by cosmic ray showers. The Prize recognizes high-quality investigations in science or engineering that have had a significant impact on a particular field or discipline. Laboratory employees nominate staff members for the Fellows' Prize. A committee of Laboratory Fellows reviews the nominations and recommends their selection to the Director.

LANL Briefs USAID on Water
In November, Gary Geernaert (EES-IGPP) and Giday WoldeGabriel (EES-6) briefed the U.S. Agency for International Development.(USAID) on a proposed initiative to address water politics and conflict analysis in the Nile River Basin. The issues involved are water resource management along the Nile Basin, involving agricultural and commercial needs; energy production as per recent discoveries of oil in western Sudan; and political agreements on country allocations. Wild cards were also discussed, such as China as a major player in oil production, and Israel involved in water technology capacity building in Ethiopia, where both of these countries have a vested interest in the political spin-offs of a Nile Basin water allocation plan. Given that East Africa is a region where competition over water rights is driving regional instabilities, there are national and international security issues of concern to the U.S. Because a LANL mission is science for security, the Laboratory has proposed using its scientific expertise to address these issues.

November 16, 2005

EES Contributes to Rock Study Publication
Another "using a beam of neutrons (LANSCE) to study rocks" paper has just appeared in a special issue of Zeitscrift fur Kristallographie, 220, (2005) 1002-1008. The journal is indeed a crystallographic journal and quite often contains papers with a more powder diffraction "flavor." This paper was coauthored by Thomas Proffen, Katherine Page (a NASA summer student), Sylvia McLain, Bjorn Clausen (all LANSCE-12); Tim Darling (MST-10) and Jim TenCate (EES-11) did the rock experiments; Seung-Yub Lee (Cal Tech) and Ersan Ustundag (Iowa State) did the bulk metallic glass measurements. The title, "Atomic pair distribution function analysis of materials containing crystalline and amorphous phases." In simple terms, the paper describes how neutron scattering experiments on an engineered material with a deliberately introduced amount of crystaline phase (a bulk metallic glass or BMG) can be analyzed with the PDF (pair distribution function) analysis. The paper then goes on to show how a Fontainebleau sandstone, analyzed the same way, yields an unexpected amorphous phase (this time NO "glass" was expected!) The paper fills in many of the details not included in the recent Geophysical Research Letter coauthored by Page/TenCate/Darling/Proffen. The work was supported by an LDRD ER (TenCate/Darling/Proffen), a NASA summer student grant (Page) and OBES and NSF for the others.

EES Scientist Gives Invited Talk at NMSU
Frank Perry (EES-9) gave an invited talk "The Hidden Volcanic Record, Expert Elicitation, and Probabilistic Volcanic Hazard Analysis at Yucca Mountain" in Las Cruces as part of the New Mexico State University, Geological Sciences Department Colloquium series. The talked was attended by about 40 students and faculty and discussed the current aeromagnetic survey, drilling program and expert elicitation that are being conducted for the Yucca Mountain Project Volcanism Studies.

November 9, 2005

Paper Describes Bolide Energy Estimates from Infrasonic Measurements
Doug ReVelle (EES-2) and collaborators W. Edwards and P. Brown at the University of Western Ontario have published a paper in Earth, Moon and Planets that describes a completely new semi-empirical approach using bolide infrasound data recorded by the global International Monitoring System infrasound network (operated in Vienna, Austria) in conjunction with global US satellite data to establish two sets of regression equations for small and large bolides, respectively. This procedure allows a prediction of the energy of a bolide from its amplitude and range from the actual event. Some 64 signals from 31 bolides recorded from all over the Earth have been incorporated into these regression relations. The regressions are further enhanced by adding horizontal winds into the equations. Such wind data are now routinely available from global atmospheric data sets such as the United Kingdom Meteorological Office forecast model, the HWM model (the Naval Research Laboratories horizontal wind model), etc. This approach will greatly increase scientists' ability to categorize such events and to further separate the types of materials present in the large bolide population. The method will allow scientists to categorize all of the older events in various catalogues that have only infrasound data available.

EES Post-doc Co-authors Paper on Sustainability of Irrigated Agriculture in California
High evaporation rates in agricultural irrigation lead to the accumulation of salts in the soil that can hinder productivity and can degrade water quality downstream, and potentially in groundwater. Salination of soils is affecting critical agricultural areas such as the Nile Delta and central California. Jasper Vrugt (EES-6) coauthored a publication (October 25) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, titled "Sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, California" that addressed this issue. (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/102/43/15352) The work was performed in collaboration with UC-Davis. The paper presents a model of the hydrologic history of the San Joaquin Valley, CA that accounts for the salt deposition in soil, the salinity of surface and groundwater, and the history of water use during the past 60 years. By including information about the shifts in irrigation sources and about extreme droughts, the model accurately predicts the local distribution of salt in the San Joaquin soils. Although the amount of salt in the soils has been relatively constant recently, the model suggests that recharge waters moving through these deposits are increasing the salinity even of deep aquifers, and will likely continue to do so, posing a major problem for the sustainability of agriculture in this region. Science highlighted the paper: (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/reprint/310/5748/593c.pdf).

November 2, 2005

LANL Brings Life to Television
On Tuesday October 18th, the PBS program NOVA Science Now featured work at LANL that attempts to generate artificial life. The segment included an interview with Steen Rasmussen (EES-6) about an LDRD-DR project on protocell assembly that involves collaboration between multiple divisions.  Rasmussen, the project leader, discusses the possibility of generating a self-replicating chemical machine and argues that this will probably happen sometime soon. Gavin Collis is featured in a Chemistry division lab operating a rotary evaporator and working in a hood. Other scientists featured in the program included Neil deGrasse Tyson (Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History), Francis Collins (Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH), and David Deamer (Chair of Biomolecular Engineering and Professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz). http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3214/01.html

The goal of the project is to assemble a self-replicating chemical machine with a rudimentary metabolic system that converts a chemical food source to more material of the protocell, and which also has a genetic system that is involved in regulating the metabolism.  The team has been able to use photoelectron transfer to cleave a lipid precursor using a ruthenium complex as a photocatalyst and ferrocene as an electron donor.  Ultimately, they are hoping to use guanine or one of its derivatives that is a part of a peptide nucleic acid as the electron donor that will cause the cleavage of the lipid precursor.  Because of its ability to self-assemble, the lipid formed in this reaction will become part of a new protocell container thus connecting the "genetic material" with the reaction that is the metabolism.  Other project participants include J. Bailey, J. Boncella, G. Collis, M. DeClue, W. Woodruff (C); S. Colgate, Y. Jiang, P. Weronski (T); C. Knutson, P. Monnard, B. Travis, X. Zhou, H. Ziock (EES); A. Shreve (MST); J. Maxwell (ISR); G. Jarvinen (NMT); and J. Zhang (D). The protocell assembly team is also a part of an international collaborative network including the European Commission sponsored Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution project ($10.5 M over 4 years). Rasmussen is a co-director of the project.

Publication on Research on Ocean Surface Productivity
In a paper published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Jeff Heikoop (EES-6) and his research collaborators reported how the nitrogen and carbon isotopic composition of structural proteins composing a portion of the skeleton of deep-sea corals reflect ocean surface productivity. Deep-sea gorgonian corals (related to sea fans on tropical reefs) have skeletons composed of annual layers of calcite and a structural protein called gorgonin. They are found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at depths ranging from 65 to 3200 m. These corals feed on organic matter raining down from the ocean surface and record the isotopic composition of their diet, which in turn reflects surface ocean nutrient sources and productivity. Lifespans for these corals may exceed several hundreds of years, suggesting that relatively long archives of surface ocean productivity could be reconstructed.  Comparison of isotopic ratios between modern and fossil specimens implies that isotopic signatures are preserved over millennial timescales.  Further research is underway to compare coral-derived isotopic time-series to records of past physical and chemical oceanographic conditions, plankton biomass and species abundance for important fish stocks. Collaborators are from Dalhousie University, McMaster University, LLNL, UC-Santa Cruz, and the EPA. Reference: O. A. Sherwood, J. M. Heikoop, D. B. Scott, M. J. Risk, T. P. Guilderson, and R. A. McKinney, "Stable isotopic composition of deep-sea gorgonian corals Primnoa spp.: a new archive of surface processes," Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 301, p.135-148 (2005). Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics supported the LANL research.

Paper on P-Waves from Cross-Correlation of Seismic Noise Published in Geophysical Research Letters
Michael Fehler (EES-11) coauthored a paper,  "P-Waves from cross-correlation of seismic noise", in Geophysical Research Letters.  Coauthors are from the Marine Physical Laboratory at UC-San Diego. The processing of seismic noise to determine components of the Green Function, or impulse response, between two stations has been a subject of great interest recently in the seismology community. Studies completed to date, including work by members of the team that authored the current paper, have successfully recovered a band-limited portion of the surface wave impulse response. In the current paper, the authors show for the first time that body waves can be recovered as well. This result may be significant for future use of noise to develop Green Functions for crustal imaging studies. They show, for example, that the travel times of the P-waves on opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault have differing propagation velocities that are in agreement with structure studies conducted using explosive sources. Thus, it is shown that some information that was previously obtained using explosions can be obtained without the cost and environmental impact of explosives. The UC Cooperative Agreement on Research in Education funded this collaborative effort between Los Alamos and UC-San Diego.

Paper Describes Theoretical Approach to Categorize Radiation Produced during the Reentry of the NASA Genesis Space Probe
Doug ReVelle (EES-2) and collaborators (SETI Institute, NASA, ELORET Institute UC-San Diego, Aerospace Corporation, Utah State University, and UNM) have published a paper in Earth, Moon, and Planets that is a composite approach to theoretically categorize the continuum and spectral properties of the radiation field produced during the reentry of the NASA Genesis space probe on September 8, 2004 (which subsequently crash-landed near Dugway, Utah after its parachute system completely failed to deploy). ReVelle, W. Edwards (University of Western Ontario) and T. D. Sandoval (formerly of EES-2, currently DX-2) have also published a separate paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Science (in June, 2005) on their infrasound recordings of this reentry from a Los Alamos infrasound array, which was rapidly deployed at the airport in Wendover, Nevada. These theoretical predictions have been compared wherever possible to actual flight data recorded on that date during the Airborne Field Campaign organized by Dr. Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. This was the first opportunity since the Apollo era of the late 1970's that allowed researchers to thoroughly check reentry heat shield behavior during atmospheric entry. Various emissions were predicted and detected during the field campaign, including those from both the atmosphere (nitrogen and oxygen emissions) as well as from the various elements in the charring heat shield on Genesis. These fireball observations can help scientists better understand natural asteroid impacts and can help improve the design of thermal protection materials for future Crew Return Vehicles.

Determination of Completeness for Waste Isolation Pilot Plan Compliance Recertification Application
The Transuranic (TRU) Waste Inventory team from EES-12 has been working with SNL to obtain and deliver a representative waste model for waste that is expected to come from 27 Department of Energy TRU Waste generator sites across the country. The waste model is based on known physical, chemical, and radiological characteristics of the TRU waste that is stored at the generator sites and includes a portion of waste that is projected to be generated through 2022. This waste representation is fed into the repository performance assessment model used by SNL to certify the (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) (WIPP) every five years in accordance with the Land Withdrawal Act (Public Law 102-579, as amended). The performance assessment model uses repository and intrusion behaviors and scenarios along with TRU waste characteristics to predict actinide releases to the environment as well as other risks associated with long time waste disposal at the WIPP. The performance assessment was completed in replicate, making it possible for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to determine that the information that has been transmitted to them in the WIPP Compliance Recertification Application is complete. The EPA issued a completeness letter initiating a six month technical review period in which the public and EPA will continue to provide comments until a final determination of certification is made. This compliance recertification determination is expected on or before March 29, 2006.

Yucca Mountain Tours
"Tours" at Yucca Mountain consist of a general briefing of the tunnel/repository layout and experiments (both completed and ongoing). The briefings are conducted in an underground excavation off the main tunnel called an Alcove. This Alcove has been customized for tours, including maps/displays and is about 160 meters (175 yards) underground.

On October 20, 2005, Brian Dozier (EES-7) briefed nine researchers working on the Pena Blanca Natural Analogue. (Pena Blanca is a YMP study conducted near Chihuahua, Mexico, involving LBNL, LANL, University of Texas, El Paso, and the University of Chihuahua.) On October 24, 2005, Dick Kovach (EES-7) hosted a visit from the Churchill County Commissioner.  On October 25, 2005, Bruce Reinert (EES-7) briefed Check C. Eng, Director of Office of Facility Authorization Bases, DOE EH-23 and 11 representatives from GE Nuclear Energy. On October 26, 2005, Bruce Reinert and Brian Dozier (EES-7) conducted a briefing and tour for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The tour included the Test Site with stops at Sedan Crater, Climax Mine, Carpetbag Fault, and the Low Level Waste Management Site. The group of 15 included geologists and lawyers from the NRC, Washington D.C. and Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses, which is part of Southwest Research Institute located in San Antonio, Texas (The Center is under contract with the NRC to conduct independent reviews). On October 27, 2005, Bruce Reinert (EES-7) hosted a visit from the Deputy Director, Licensing and Inspection and the Public Affairs Officer from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

October 26, 2005

EES Scientist Gives Lectures at Stockhom University
During the week of October 2-7, 2005, Doug ReVelle (EES-2) presented three 1_ hour lectures as part of a graduate level course offered by the Department of Meteorology at Stockholm University (MISU), titled "Middle Atmospheric Aerosols." There were similar lectures given by at least 12 other "teachers" (with a total of three researchers from the USA including ReVelle) and a graduate student class of 19 individuals from various disciplines in six other countries (including Scandanavia, central Europe, and Canada). ReVelle lectured on the Large Bolide entry modeling process, on the Influx rate of Large Meteoroids and on the Infrasound and Satellite Detection (etc.) of the September 3, 2004 Antarctic bolide. Thus, his contribution to the course was partly regarding the immediate sources of the micrometer sized debris cloud of aerosols deposited during large bolide entry. The additional contribution was to provide a reliable estimate (with formal error bars) of how frequently such sources can occur at the Earth on a yearly timescale. Similar lectures were also given on the atmospheric chemistry processes that can occur during the energy deposition process of small meteors and on the differential ablation processes as various meteor source chemical elements (Na, Ca, etc.) ablate preferentially while different entry conditions are experienced.

EES Scientists Develop Improved Inverse Modeling Methods
In a recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters (Vol. 32, No. 18, L18408, http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0518/2005GL023940/2005GL023940.pdf), Jasper Vrugt, Bruce Robinson, and Velimir Vesselinov of Hydrology, Geochemistry, and Geology (EES-6) present a novel inverse modeling method for estimating flow and transport properties in subsurface media. Current approaches implicitly assume that uncertainty in the input-output representation of the model arises from uncertainty in the parameter estimates. However, uncertainties in the modeling procedure stem not only from uncertainties in the parameter estimates, but also from measurement errors, from incomplete knowledge of subsurface heterogeneity, and from model structural errors arising from the aggregation of spatially distributed real-world processes in a mathematical model. The newly developed method, called Simultaneous Optimization and Data Assimilation (SODA), results in parameter estimates and model prediction uncertainty bounds, which more closely mimic the properties of the subsurface. Most important is the finding that explicit treatment of input, output, and model structural errors during inverse modeling significantly alters the optimal values of the model parameters. This has important implications for model reliability and predictive capability. The authors demonstrate the usefulness of the SODA method in a case study that uses interwell reactive tracer test data to obtain estimates of large-scale parameter values. The optimization method should have broad applicability in inverse modeling using hydrologic and geophysical measurements in subsurface, surface, and atmospheric systems.

EES Participates in NM Drought Summit and NM Climate Change Working Group
On October 6, 2006, Paul Rich (GISLab Team Leader, EES-9) gave an invited presentation, "Impacts of Drought on Energy Production: ZeroNet Decision Support Tools for the San Juan Basin," at the Third Annual Drought Summit in Albuquerque, NM, sponsored by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE). The ZeroNet Water-Energy Initiative included development of a decision support system for the San Juan River Basin, with a focus on drought planning and economic analysis. ZeroNet Collaborators include researchers at LANL, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Systech Engineering, University of New Mexico (UNM), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). LANL EES collaborators for the ZeroNet Project include Cathy Wilson (EES-2), Paul Rich (EES-9), Mary Ewers (UNM/EES-2), Thomas Riggs (EES-9), and Gary Langhorst (EES-2). In conjunction with the Drought Summit, on October 7, 2006, the OSE hosted the kickoff meeting of the Governor's Climate Change Initiative Water Supply Impact Working Group. LANL representatives for the working group included Cathy Wilson (EES-2), James Bossert (EES Acting Deputy Division Leader), and Gary Geernaert (Center Leader, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics).

Yucca Mountain Repository Tours and Briefings
On October 11, 2005, Bruce Reinert (EES-7) conducted a briefing and tour of the Yucca Mountain Repository to a large group of 14 Congressional Staff; 26 Representatives, Senators, and members of the National Conference of State Legislatures; and 7 representatives of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The NEI were showing the progress to interested parties. The information included an overview  of  geology, results of testing activities and repository layout.

October 12, 2005, (EES-7) Brian Dozier briefed two groups of visitors: the Nevada Alliance (a group who are interested in the project); and a large group of 32 representatives of the Western Interstate Energy Board (New Mexico, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, Arizona, and Utah). The information included an overview of geology, results of testing activities and repository layout.

On October 13, 2005, (EES-7) Bruce Reinert briefed a group of seven visitors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The information included an overview of geology, results of testing activities and repository layout. The tour also included a trip to the Drift Scale Test about 2800 meters into the tunnel where a test on the effects of long-term heating of the repository rock is being conducted.

October 19, 2005

EES Researchers Deliver Infrasound Results to AFTAC Ahead of Schedule
The Ground-based Nuclear Explosion Research and Engineering Program (GNEM R&E), lead by Ward Hawkins and Steve Taylor from EES-11, Geophysics, successfully completed in August the second delivery in FY 2005 of seismic and infrasound research products that contribute to the NNSA Knowledge Base (KB), an electronic collection of data and the tools to access them that supports the US National Data Center's mission of monitoring for nuclear explosions. The two KB deliveries, in November 2004 and July 2005, were comprised of seismic and infrasound research products, which span the areas of event detection and location, identification and discrimination, magnitude estimation, geophysical models, and fully integrated and reconciled global and regional seismic bulletins. GNEM R&E researchers delivered calibration results for 20 seismic stations and arrays, two infrasound arrays, and six technical reports. The calibration work for three seismic stations was done entirely at AFTAC last Spring, involving a total of 22 individual trips by researchers. This outstanding effort by EES-11 staff members and technical support culminated in the delivery of research products one full month ahead of schedule, which was well received by the Knowledge Base Integrator (Sandia National Laboratories), and by AFTAC researchers. Each of the KB deliveries included hands-on demonstrations at AFTAC of the research results being delivered by LANL researchers .  There were also in-depth technical discussions between LANL and AFTAC researchers that took place during the 2-day meeting, where current research results were discussed and strategies for future deliveries to the Knowledge Base were planned. The next major delivery of calibration results for seismic and infrasound stations of interest is scheduled for July 2006.

EES's ReVelle Pubishes Paper in Earth Moon and Planets
In an invited review paper in Earth Moon and Planets, Doug ReVelle (EES-2) summarized work accomplished for six different talks and posters presented at the Meteoroids2004 meeting held in London, Ontario, Canada in August 2004 and summarized recent advances in bolide entry modeling during 2001-2004. This work includes entry modeling of the ablation, deceleration and drag, fragmentation, and in the predicted optical luminosity of all possible types of porous and non-porous large bolide entries into the Earth's atmosphere (iron, ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites, as well as strong and weak cometary type materials). It also considered in detail the total power budget for various differential and integral efficiency processes and their relative changes during entry (for the deposition of heat and for the production of light, shock waves and acoustical signals, dissociation, ionization, etc.). Finally the generation, propagation, and detection of acoustic-gravity waves (the science of infrasound is a subset of such acoustic-gravity waves) during the entry of bright bolides was also summarized and further generalized, especially for the much less studied internal gravity waves generated during large bolide entry (except for the huge June 30, 1908 Tunguska bolide event, which started the initial modeling process back in the early 1950's when the first large nuclear explosions were detonated).

EES participates in Migration 05 Conference
On September 18-23, 2005, Don Reed and Jean-Francois Lucchini (EES-12) participated to the 10th International Conference on Chemistry and Migration Behavior of Actinides and Fission Products in Geosphere, held in Avignon, France. This is a bi-annual conference that is very well represented by the international nuclear environmental chemistry and geochemistry community. Four posters were presented related to their work in Carlsbad, NM, for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and in the Natural and Accelerated Bioremediation Research (NABIR) program area. Three papers in Radiochimica Acta are anticipated for publication in proceedings.

On September 23, Dr. Reed and Lucchini visited the Atalante Facility of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA) Rhône Valley Research Center. The tour was focused on the High-Level Radioactive Waste Laboratory, and the research performed on spent nuclear fuel, high-level waste glass and simulated transuranic-loaded matrixes (UO2 and glass). The tour was provided by Dr. Christophe Jegou (CEA), former supervisor of Dr. Lucchini during his Ph.D work. Collaborations with researchers from Atalante in common areas of interest are being explored.

EES participation to Miller 05 Conference
Jean-Francois Lucchini (EES-12) was one of 25 young scientists who received a grant to attend to the 24th Miller Conference on Radiation Chemistry, held in La Londe les Maures, France, on September 10-15, 2005. Initiated by the Miller Trust for Radiation Chemistry (in the memory of the great J.H. Baxendale), the Miller Conference has been held at two-year intervals since 1959, alternatively in the UK and other European countries. The purpose of the conference is to present state of the art and new advancements in the general area of Radiation Chemistry. Chemists, physicists, and biologists discuss a variety of topics ranging from fundamental aspects of radiolysis to various applications in chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science. Dr. Lucchini gave an overview of water radiolysis effect on spent nuclear fuel alteration in an underground repository.

EES Researchers Participate in Jemez y Sangre Water Resources Summit
On September 21st several EES members presented their latest research efforts at the Jemez y Sangre Water Resources Summit and Workshop, also titled "Managing Landscapes and Watersheds for Water Resources." The workshop was held at the Sweeney Convention Center in Santa Fe and included participants from multiple institutions and organizations throughout New Mexico. Approximately 16 speakers presented their work in 20-minute workshops with topics ranging from river restoration to water harvesting in residential landscapes. In addition to the workshops, several posters were on display for viewing. Poster presentations from LANL EES included "Drought Induced Mortality in Semiarid Woodlands" by authors Paul Rich (EES-9), David Breshears (UA), Kevin Price (KU), Neil Cobb (NAU), Jude Kastens (KU), Randy Balice (ENV-ECO), and Craig Allen (USGS), and "Decision Support System for Water Management of the San Juan Basin" by authors Paul Rich (EES-9), Laura Weintraub (Systech), Mary Ewers (UNM/EES-9), Limin Chen (Systech), Cathy Wilson (EES-2), and Vincent Tidwell (SNL). Laura Weintraub was also among the workshop speakers discussing "Watershed Analysis and Risk Management in the San Juan Basin" as part of the ZeroNet Water-Energy Initiative with EES. Sponsors for this summit included the Water Research Technical Assistance Office, LANL, the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, Earth Works Institute, Emerald Earth, the City of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe County.

October 12, 2005

Utility of Volcanic Ash in Understanding Geological Processes in Ancient Environment
In a paper published in the current issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Giday WoldeGabriel (EES-6) and his research collaborators reported how several volcanic ash layers erupted from across Eastern Africa and deposited within fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks in southern Ethiopia were used to establish local correlations among widely separated sections in a highly faulted landscape. More than 10 of these ash beds were matched to other sections in northern Kenya more than 200 km away. The volcanic ash deposits were matched using chemical data generated at LANL and at Miami University of Ohio. Some of these ash layers represent major explosive volcanic eruptions that blanketed the Horn of Africa, the nearby Gulf of Aden, and the western Indian Ocean. The sources of these explosive and voluminous eruptions were located within the rift valley in central Ethiopia. Based on the volcanic ash record in the study area in Ethiopia, the frequency of explosive volcanic eruptions dramatically increased with time from about 1.9 million years ago to about 1.33 million years and continued episodically until about 160,000 years ago. These ash layers from the explosive eruptions blanketed a large area within the Eastern Africa. The deposits provided accurate age information about the complex geological processes, the paleoenvironmental and paleoclimate conditions, and the species of human ancestors and archaeological remains recovered from the study areas. According to the fossil records, at least two species of human ancestors lived in both regions more or less at the same time. However, the animal population at the two locations was somewhat different. Comparison of the rock types bracketed between 1.91 and 1.40 million years reveal slightly different sediment accumulation rates and subsidence consistent with variable geological settings and environmental and climatic conditions. The study is a collaborative effort among Ethiopian, Japanese, and US scientists.  Publication: WoldeGabriel, Giday, William K. Hart, Shigehiro Katoh, Yonas Beyene, and Gen Suwa, "Correlation of Plio-Pleistocene Tephra in Ethiopian and Kenyan rift basis: Temporal calibration of geological features and hominid fossil records," Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 147 (2005) 81-108.

EES Scientists Publish Paper Concerning Drought Impacts in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Paul M. Rich (EES-9) and Clifton W. Meyer (EES-2), former EES-2 scientist David D. Breshears (now at the University of Arizona) and ENV-ECO scientist Randy G. Balice, co-authored a publication titled "Regional Vegetation Die-Off in Response to Global-Change Type Drought", published on October 10, 2005 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Additional co-authors include Kevin P. Price and Jude H. Kastens (University of Kansas), Craig D. Allen (U.S. Geological Survey, Bandelier), William H. Romme (Colorado State University), M. Lisa Floyd (Prescott College), Jayne Belnap (U.S. Geological Survey, Moab); Jesse J. Anderson (Northern Arizona University), and Orrin B. Meyers (University of New Mexico). The publication documents rapid, regional scale die-off of millions of piñon pines in the American Southwest in response to drought accompanied by high temperatures. Drought combined with heat lowered natural defenses of the trees and left them susceptible to bark beetle infestation. The demise of the trees, visible across the region with satellite remote sensing, could affect Southwestern ecosystems for decades. The findings suggest that global climate change can produce large, abrupt, and even devastating changes to ecosystems. The work is gaining national attention (e.g., see October 11th USA Today article at http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-10-10-drought-pinyons_x.htm and October 10th University of Arizona Press Release http://uanews.org/cgi-bin/WebObjects/UANews.woa/8/wa/ SRStoryDetails?ArticleID=11731). The research was coordinated through the Drought Impacts on Regional Ecosystems Network (DIREnet), a National Science Foundation-sponsored mechanism designed to coordinate and foster scientific research collaborations on climate change.

These photos show the massive die-off of piñon pines that occurred during the recent drought. By October 2002, piñons, normally evergreen, had reddish-brown foliage (left). By May 2004, the dead piñons had lost all their needles, exposing their gray trunks. The photos were taken from the same vantage point in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos. Credit: Photo courtesy of Craig D. Allen, U.S. Geological Survey.

EES Participates in Kickoff Meeting for DOE Geospatial Science Program Management Office
On October 5, 2005, the DOE Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) hosted a kickoff meeting for the newly formed DOE Geospatial Science Program Management Office (GS-PMO). The GS-PMO builds on existing geospatial sciences strengths across the Department and will provide an enterprise geographic information system (EGIS) infrastructure connecting all elements of DOE to critical geospatial data and associated geographic information services (GIServices). Governance of the GS-PMO is based on a tri-chair structure, with chairs provided by the Office of Environmental Management, Office of Science, and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Tina Behr-Andres (EES Acting Division Leader) attended in her capacity as the NNSA chair. Paul Rich (GISLab Team Leader, EES-9) attended in his capacity as LANL representative and vice-chair of the DOE Geospatial Science Steering Committee, which provides the GS-PMO with technical recommendations and is responsible for implementing the Geospatial Science Program across the DOE complex.

October 5, 2005

EES Participates in NNSA Program Review
The Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration held the 27th Seismic Research Review for Ground-Based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Technologies in Palm Springs, California, from September 20-22, 2005. This program review provides a forum for discussions of current research in the nuclear explosion monitoring technology fields including: seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide. Poster sessions were organized for the topics of Data Processing and Analysis, Infrasound, Seismic Regional Characterization, Seismic Detection and Location, Hydroacoustic, and Seismic Identification and Sources. There were also associated advanced data management and systems integration technology presentations. Participation at the Review included 14 researchers from EES Division (W. Hawkins, S. Taylor, J. Aguilar-Chang, D. ReVelle, M. Begnaud, C. Rowe, X. Yang, H. Patton, L. Steck, G. Randall, M. Maciera, R. Stead, D. Baker, H. Hartse). Los Alamos also produced the proceedings, which included more than 100 papers (LA-UR-05-6407).

LANL Yucca Mountain Project, Performance Confirmation Program Review
The Yucca Mountain Project has developed a Performance Confirmation Program that focuses on activities specifically designed to confirm the technical basis for the licensing decision and testing the functionality of the barriers and total system performance. On September 20, Doug Weaver (EES-7) briefed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste (ACNW) on the current status of the program and path forward as the Project moves toward submitting a License Application. The presentation focused on the evolution of the planning for the Performance Confirmation Program since the ACNW was last briefed in 2003, the risk-informed approach to developing the program, the use of the results in future performance assessments, and a summary of the currently planned testing activities.


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