2024 Abstracts

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory BioGeoChemistry at Interfaces Science Focus Area: A 15 Year Effort to Identify Biogeochemical Processes Controlling the Fate of Radionuclides in the Environment


Mavrik Zavarin1* (zavarin1@llnl.gov), Annie Kersting1, Enrica Balboni1, Teresa Baumer1, Gauthier Deblonde1, Yongqin Jiao1, Nancy Merino1, Keith Morrison1, Naomi Wasserman1, Elliot Chang1, Sol-Chan Han1, Brian Powell2, Fanny Coutelot2, Haruko Wainwright3, Dan Kaplan4, Carolyn Pearce5, Hillary Emerson5


1Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA; 2Clemson University, Clemson, SC; 3Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; 4University of Georgia, Athens, GA; 5Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA



Originally titled the Plutonium Science Focus Area (SFA), the focus of the BioGeoChemistry at Interfaces SFA for the past 15 years has been to identify and quantify the biogeochemical processes and the underlying mechanisms that control the mobility of actinides and other redox sensitive elements in an effort to reliably predict their cycling and migration in the environment. The research focus shifted over the years from detailed mechanistic laboratory studies of intrinsic Pu colloid formation using molecular modeling and atomistic spectroscopy and microscopy to field-scale characterization of long term (>decadal) cycling of radionuclides and trace elements in a series of test beds located across the U.S. (and U.K.). The investment of BER in this SFA program allowed the SFA team to adjust its research focus over time to answer critical questions that limit the ability to predict the long term fate of contaminants associated with DOE’s (and the world’s) most complex radiochemically contaminated environments. Throughout its history, this SFA was founded on three research pillars: (1) Field Studies that capture biogeochemical redox processes on the timescale of decades; (2) Fundamental Laboratory Studies that isolate specific biogeochemical processes observed in the field; and (3) Harnessing the unique capabilities and staff expertise at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and its national laboratory partners to advance the understanding of biogeochemical redox processes in the environment and serve as an international resource for environmental radiochemistry research.

The SFA concept within BER is structured for conducting coordinated, team-oriented research in a manner that is distinct from, but complementary to, BER-supported research conducted via individual, single-investigator projects at other institutions. This approach challenges the DOE national laboratories to build and sustain integrative, team-oriented research programs based on their unique scientific capabilities and administrative resources to meet the strategic goals of the ESS program. Over its successful and productive 15 year history, the Biogeochemistry at Interfaces SFA has led to publication of over 70 manuscripts with approximately 175 co-authors, innumerable presentations at national and international conferences, the ACS Francis P. Garvan- John M. Olin Medal received by the original Principal Investigator (Annie Kersting) that recognized her distinguished service to chemistry, and the development of a robust pipeline of next-generation radiochemists into the National Laboratories and U.S. universities.