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Archive: September, 2021
  • Backward Erosion Testing: Magnolia Levee

    Abstract: Using a confined flume device, an experimental study investigated the critical horizontal gradient of soils obtained from a site identified as potentially vulnerable to backward erosion piping (BEP). Tests were conducted on glacial outwash material obtained from a sand and gravel quarry in the vicinity of Magnolia Levee in the community of Magnolia, OH. The two bulk samples collected from the quarry had similar grain-size distributions, grain roundness, and depositional environments as the foundation materials beneath the levee. Samples were prepared at various densities and subjected to gradual increases of flow in a wooden flume with an acrylic top until BEP was observed. The critical average horizontal gradient ranged from 0.21 to 0.30 for a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 1.6, while tests conducted on a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 2.5 yielded critical average horizontal gradients of 0.31 to 0.36. The critical average gradients measured during these tests compared favorably to values in the literature after applying adjustments according to Schmertmann’s method.
  • Backward Erosion Progression Rates from Small-Scale Flume Tests

    Abstract: Backward erosion piping (BEP) is an internal erosion mechanism by which erosion channels progress upstream, typically through cohesionless or highly erodible foundation materials of dams and levees. As one of the primary causes of embankment failures, usually during high pool events, the probability of BEP-induced failure is commonly evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for existing dams and levees. In current practice, BEP failure probability is quantitatively assessed assuming steady state conditions with qualitative adjustments for temporal aspects of the process. In cases with short-term hydraulic loads, the progression rate of the erosion pipe may control the failure probability such that more quantitative treatment of the temporal development of erosion is necessary to arrive at meaningful probabilities of failure. This report builds upon the current state of the practice by investigating BEP progression rates through a series of laboratory experiments. BEP progression rates were measured for nine uniform sands in a series of 55 small-scale flume tests. Results indicate that the pipe progression rates are proportional to the seepage velocity and can be predicted using equations recently proposed in the literature.
  • Synthesis and Characterization of Biological Nanomaterial/Poly(vinylidene fluoride) Composites

    Abstract: The properties of composite materials are strongly influenced by both the physical and chemical properties of their individual constituents, as well as the interactions between them. For nanocomposites, the incorporation of nano-sized dopants inside a host material matrix can lead to significant improvements in mechanical strength, toughness, thermal or electrical conductivity, etc. In this work, the effect of cellulose nanofibrils on the structure and mechanical properties of cellulose nanofibril poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) composite films was investigated. Cellulose is one of the most abundant organic polymers with superior mechanical properties and readily functionalized surfaces. Under the current processing conditions, cellulose nanofibrils, as-received and 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl radical (TEMPO) oxidized, alter the crystallinity and mechanical properties of the composite films while not inducing a crystalline phase transformation on the 𝛾 phase PVDF composites. Composite films obtained from hydrated cellulose nanofibrils remain in a majority 𝛾 phase, but also exhibit a small, yet detectable fraction of 𝛼 and ß PVDF phases.
  • CuO Enhances the Photocatalytic Activity of Fe₂O₃ through Synergistic Reactive Oxygen Species Interactions

    Abstract: Iron oxide (α-Fe2O3, hematite) colloids were synthesized under hydrothermal conditions and investigated as catalysts for the photodegradation of an organic dye under broad-spectrum illumination. To enhance photocatalytic performance, Fe2O3 was combined with other transition-metal oxide (TMO) colloids (e.g., CuO and ZnO), which are sensitive to different regions of the solar spectrum (far visible and ultraviolet, respectively), using a ternary blending approach for compositional mixtures. For a variety of ZnO/Fe2O3/CuO mole ratios, the pseudo-first-order rate constant for methyl orange degradation was at least double the sum of the individual Fe2O3 and CuO rate constants, indicating there is an underlying synergy governing the photocatalysis reaction with these combinations of TMOs. A full compositional study was carried out to map the interactions between the three TMOs. Additional experiments probed the identity and role of reactive oxygen species and elucidated the mechanism by which CuO enhanced Fe2O3 photodegradation while ZnO did not. The increased photocatalytic performance of Fe2O3 in the presence of CuO was associated with hydroxyl radical ROS, consistent with heterogeneous photo-Fenton mechanisms, which are not accessible by ZnO. These results imply that low-cost photocatalytic materials can be engineered for high performance under solar illumination by selective pairing of TMOs with compatible ROS.
  • Estimating Growing-Season Root Zone Soil Moisture from Vegetation Index-Based Evapotranspiration Fraction and Soil Properties in the Northwest Mountain Region, USA

    Abstract: A soil moisture retrieval method is proposed, in the absence of ground-based auxiliary measurements, by deriving the soil moisture content relationship from the satellite vegetation index-based evapotranspiration fraction and soil moisture physical properties of a soil type. A temperature–vegetation dryness index threshold value is also proposed to identify water bodies and underlying saturated areas. Verification of the retrieved growing season soil moisture was performed by comparative analysis of soil moisture obtained by observed conventional in situ point measurements at the 239-km2 Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho, USA (2006–2009), and at the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) soil moisture measurement sites in Sundance, Wyoming (2012–2015), and Lewistown, Montana (2014–2015). The proposed method best represented the effective root zone soil moisture condition, at a depth between 50 and 100 cm, with an overall average R2 value of 0.72 and average root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.042.
  • Corrosion and Performance of Dust Palliatives: Laboratory and Field Studies

    Abstract: This report details laboratory and field experiments on BioPreferred® dust suppressants to assess performance and corrosion characteristics. Numerous bio-based dust suppressant products are marketed, but little data are available to assess performance for dust abatement and corrosion of common metals. A laboratory study used an air impingement device and the Portable In-Situ Wind ERosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL) to simulate wind speeds similar to those in field conditions for rotary wing aircraft. Laboratory corrosion studies used metal coupons imbedded in soil treated with dust palliative. Field trials were conducted using ground vehicle traffic to minimize cost and lower safety concerns while increasing surface wear from repetitive traffic. These studies clearly show that bio-based products demonstrate low corrosion potential with similar dust abatement performance to synthetic-based agents.
  • Incorporating Sentinel-1 SAR imagery with the MODIS MCD64A1 burned area product to improve burn date estimates and reduce burn date uncertainty in wildland fire mapping

    Abstract: Wildland fires result in a unique signal detectable by multispectral remote sensing and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). However, in many regions, such as Southeast Asia, persistent cloud cover and aerosols temporarily obstruct multispectral satellite observations of burned area, including the MODIS MCD64A1 Burned Area Product (BAP). Multiple days between cloud free pre- and postburn MODIS observations result in burn date uncertainty. We incorporate cloud-penetrating, C-band SAR-with the MODIS MCD64A BAP in Southeast Asia, to exploit the strengths of each dataset to better estimate the burn date and reduce the potential burn date uncertainty range. We incorporate built-in quality control using MCD64A1 to reduce erroneous pixel updating. We test the method over part of Laos and Thailand during April 2016 and found average uncertainty reduction of 4.5 d, improving 15% of MCD64A1 pixels. A new BAP could improve monitoring temporal trends of wildland fires, air quality studies and monitoring post-fire vegetation dynamics.
  • An Evaluation of Soil Phosphorus Storage Capacity (SPSC) at Proposed Wetland Restoration Locations in the Western Lake Erie Basin

    Abstract: Historical loss of wetlands coupled with excess phosphorus (P) loading at watershed scales have degraded water quality in portions of the western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). In response, efforts are underway to restore wetlands and decrease P loading to surface waters. Because wetlands have a finite capacity to retain P, researchers have developed techniques to determine whether wetlands function as P sources or sinks. The following technical report evaluates the soil P storage capacity (SPSC) at locations under consideration for wetland restoration in collaboration with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the H2Ohio initiative. Results indicate that the examined soils display a range of P retention capacities, reflecting historic land-use patterns and management regimes. However, the majority of study locations exhibited some capacity to sequester additional P. The analysis supports development of rankings and comparative analyses of areas within a specific land parcel, informing management through design, avoidance, removal, or remediation of potential legacy P sources. Additionally, the approaches described herein support relative comparisons between multiple potential wetland development properties. These results, in conjunction with other data sources, can be used to target, prioritize, justify, and improve decision-making for wetland management activities in the WLEB.
  • Methods for Simultaneous Determination of 29 Legacy and Insensitive Munition (IM) Constituents in Aqueous, Soil-Sediment, and Tissue Matrices by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

    Abstract: Standard methods are in place for analysis of 17 legacy munitions compounds and one surrogate in water and soil matrices; however, several insensitive munition (IM) and degradation products are not part of these analytical procedures. This lack could lead to inaccurate determinations of munitions in environmental samples by either not measuring for IM compounds or using methods not designed for IM and other legacy compounds. This work seeks to continue expanding the list of target analytes currently included in the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 8330B. This technical report presents three methods capable of detecting 29 legacy, IM, and degradation products in a single High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method with either ultraviolet (UV)-visible absorbance detection or mass spectrometric detection. Procedures were developed from previously published works and include the addition of hexahydro-1-nitroso-3,5-dinitro-1,3,5-triazine (MNX); hexahydro-1,3-dinitroso-5-nitro-1,3,5-triazine (DNX); hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitroso-1,3,5-triazine (TNX); 2,4-diamino-6-nitrotoluene (2,4-DANT); and 2,6-diamino-4-nitrotoluene (2,6-DANT). One primary analytical method and two secondary (confirmation) methods were developed capable of detecting 29 analytes and two surrogates. Methods for high water concentrations (direct injection), low-level water concentrations (solid phase extraction), soil (solvent extraction), and tissue (solvent extraction) were tested for analyte recovery of the new compounds.
  • Summary of Collaborative Wildlife Protection and Recovery Initiative (CWPRI) Conservation Workshop: Least Bell’s Vireo

    Abstract: This special report summarizes the regional workshop held 24–26 April 2018 at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Ecological Services Office in Carlsbad, California on the importance of collaboration among federal, state, and nongovernmental agencies to facilitate the recovery of threatened and endangered species (TES). This workshop focused primarily on one species, the least Bell’s vireo (LBVI), and how to achieve full recovery and eventual delisting through agency partnerships. A major theme of the workshop was applying the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7(a)(1) conservation planning process as a building block towards recovery of LBVI—as well as other threatened, endangered, and at-risk riparian species within the Southwest. The main objective of this workshop was to assemble an interagency and interdisciplinary group of wildlife biologists and managers to detail how the Section 7(a)(1) conservation planning approach, in consultation with the USFWS, can assist in the recovery of LBVI primarily on federal lands but also other public and private lands. Goals of this workshop were to (1) review Section 7(a)(1); (2) outline LBVI ecosystem processes, life history, threats, and conservation solutions; and (3) develop and organize agency commitments to collaborative conservation practices.