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Environmental and earth science students seldom have an opportunity to apply what they learn in class to the solution of real-world problems. With NSF support we have developed the prototype Plume Busters software, in which students take on the role of an environmental consultant. Following a pipeline spill, the environmental consultant is hired by the pipeline owner to locate the resulting plume created by the spill and remediate the contaminated aquifer at minimum monetary and time cost. The contamination must be removed from the aquifer before it reaches the river and eventually a downstream public water supply. The software consists of an interactive Java application and accompanying HTML linked pages. The application simulates movement of a plume from a pipeline break through a shallow alluvial aquifer towards the river. The accompanying web pages establish the simulated contamination scenario and provide students with background material on ground-water flow and transport principles. To make the role-play more realistic, the student must consider cost and time when making decisions about siting observation wells and wells for the pump-and-treat remediation system.
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