New research chair to improve reclamation science
Edmonton - A new industrial research chair will give Syncrude unprecedented insight into groundwater behaviour and how to improve land reclamation.
University of Saskatchewan geoscientist Dr. Lee Barbour has been presented with a $2.6-million research chair thanks to Syncrude and the federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
“This is really the cutting edge of science,” says Syncrude environmental research team leader Audrey Lanoue. “We are excited about the potential of finding new tools to quantify how quickly groundwater moves through landforms.”
Syncrude will provide on-site logistical support to Dr. Barbour’s team, as well as instrumentation, drilling, sample collection, transportation and data gathering.
“We will determine the magnitude, rate, pathway and chemistry of groundwater in the reclaimed oil sands mine landforms,” says Dr. Barbour. “Our goal is to provide the information needed by oil sands developers like Syncrude so they can create new landscapes that are sustainable and support natural processes.”
Audrey says the research resulting from the development of this industrial research chair will improve confidence in reclamation performance and be used in both long range and closure planning.
“We can also not overlook the fact that this research will have applications in many other industries as well, and we’re really proud to be contributing to the development of this research,” says Audrey.
The research site will be set up on two watersheds that are part of Syncrude’s reclaimed land at Mildred Lake, and it will also extend into two other areas that are being reclaimed, including the 50-hectare watershed that encompasses the fen pilot research project.
Syncrude will provide half the funding for the Chair in Hydrogeological Characterization of Oil Sands Mine Closure Landforms, investing more than $1.3 million over the five-year research project. Syncrude and the university will also contribute more than $1 million through in-kind support.