Environmental Restoration at Los Alamos National Laboratories/New Mexico (LANL/NM)

3D sitewide geologic modeling supports both regional and localized investigations of contaminant fate by a variety of national laboratory scientists.

As a result of Weston’s expertise with EarthVision®, LANL in NM has involved Weston in the interpretation and visualization of geology and contaminant distributions beneath several disposal areas since 2001. In 2008, Weston migrated LANL’s 250 cubic mile laboratory-wide geologic model from a series of 2D surfaces in Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) ArcGIS mapping system to a 3D EarthVision® model. This move reduced the time and cost to complete updates, enhanced the model visualization and inspection process, and improved compatibility with LANL’s Finite Element Heat and Mass Transfer Code for groundwater modeling.

Weston has since updated the model several times as the subsurface monitoring network and understanding of the geology have continued to evolve. The model currently incorporates 28 volcaniclastic strata that are displaced by a network of seven faults that comprise the Pajarito fault zone. The model currently utilizes over 10 million data points consisting of mapped outcrops, interpreted contours, and lithologic borings from 550 locations (a third of which are between 500 and 3,000 feet deep). The model is used to produce maps and cross sections for an annual site wide monitoring report and for focused investigation reports for several sites within the laboratory. The model also supplies the information necessary for proper application of properties that affect contaminant mass calculations and transport models for these sites.

The most recent model update in 2015 included a web viewer as a deliverable, in addition to the EarthVision®, ESRI, and GeoPDF file formats previously provided. The web viewer provides easier access to model content for a broader spectrum of scientists using a medium that is universally accessible, intuitive, lightweight, and maintenance-free for the end user.