Uli Mayer
Professor of Groundwater Hydrology and Geochemistry
University of British Columbia

My research concentrates on the geochemical evolution of low-temperature groundwater systems with a focus on groundwater contamination and remediation. Dissolved inorganic and organic chemicals are commonly affected by a variety of physical and chemical processes, which influence their mobility, but also alter the geochemical composition of the aquifer material. This is particularly true in the vadose zone, where the exchange of gases with the atmosphere can enhance the progress of geochemical reaction processes. Due to the complexity of these systems and the strong non-linear coupling between the processes, existing conceptual models are often incomplete and data interpretation from field and laboratory studies is not always intuitive.

My research interests include:

  • Development of a process-oriented multicomponent reactive transport model, which can be used to investigate these complex systems and which is generally applicable to a large number of reactive transport problems in the fields of environmental sciences and engineering.
  • Numerical analysis of groundwater contamination problems and remediation solutions with the goal to quantify, and potentially improve, existing conceptual models.
  • Investigation of transport and reaction processes in groundwater systems using dissolved and vapor phase gases as natural tracers (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, N2) or indicators for biological processes (CH4, CO2, H2, H2S, O2, N2).
  • Estimation of natural attenuation rates at sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons or ethanol-blended fuel by measurement of CO2 and CH4 effluxes, combined with stable isotopic and radiocarbon analysis.