In recent years the discipline of earth sciences at ORNL has grown in recognition. Asked to prepare an overview of the earth sciences in the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD) for the annual information meeting, I became interested in tracing their evolution before ESD was formed in 1972, as well as in exploring the truly interdisciplinary nature of the earth sciences since ESD was established: I was struck by the fascinating historical tale that unfolded.

I was struck by the fascinating historical tale that unfolded.

What are the earth sciences? Some areas fall easily under this umbrella--geology, geochemistry, and hydrology (the science that treats the distribution, properties, and environmental behavior of water on the earth), for instance. Others, such as soil science, oceanography, and atmospheric systems, are less obvious. Many engineering disciplines, especially those dealing with chemistry, soils, and groundwater, can be legitimately included. The line of demarcation between areas of "earth science" and "life science" is poorly defined, a situation that seems to encourage interdisciplinary work, as we shall see.

Two factors basically underlie the earth sciences in ESD. These factors are waste disposal and biogeochemical cycling. The issues that are addressed by the earth sciences are, first, understanding the physical and chemical parameters influencing the movement and fate of energy by-products in the environment, and second, development and application of methods for controlling and monitoring that movement. With these thoughts in mind, I became interested in determining when the principles of earth sciences first surfaced here at ORNL and began a historical journey. (We fully recognize a parallel and excellent effort in geochemistry under Dave Wesolowski in the Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division that falls largely outside this discussion of history but that is covered in the following article.)

Even in those early days, individuals were sincerely concerned about proper disposal of liquid nuclear waste.

Three messages emerge from the story of the earth sciences in ESD: (1) they have been important to the operation of ORNL since the earliest days; (2) even in those early days, there were individuals sincerely concerned about proper disposal of liquid nuclear waste; and (3) the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

Early Years

In January 1944, ORNL's first solid waste storage area (SWSA) for low-level radioactive waste was established in Bethel Valley close to the laboratories. The second and third SWSAs were also sited there. Reviews of the history of waste disposal by Browder, Coobs and Gissel, and Webster all confirm that these facilities were sited largely for the convenience of employees at the labs rather than on the basis of principles of hydrology and soil chemistry. However, SWSA 1 was abandoned when water was observed in a disposal trench, suggesting a concern that water could carry hazardous materials into the human environment.

Rock strata dip steeply into the ground of the Oak Ridge Reservation as shown in this diagram. Many of them, especially those of the Knox Group, are aquifers that transmit water rapidly, often through sinkholes and caverns. Others are aquitards in which water moves slowly, often in fractures.

In reviewing Browder's 1949 article on liquid waste disposal here, I was struck by his phrase "it has long been known...waste constitutes a health hazard" and "necessity for . . . removing poisons from . . . wastes has been apparent for several years." Curiosity asks what were the attitudes toward "proper" disposal "several years" ago (see "Dilute and Disperse"). Laboratory Records helped provide interesting documents. For instance, a February 1946 memo from William H. Ray to Karl Z. Morgan, director of the Health Physics Division, describes the "discharge of wastes of abnormal activity for five days." It states, "That the protection of the drinking water systems of the Tennessee and Mississippi river valleys depends upon the correct handling of our liquid wastes cannot be overemphasized for those responsible for their protection. The taking of chances is unwarranted." Powerful words!

The contorted and complex patterns of the sedimentary strata are shown here. Fractures in the rock made it difficult to contain liquid wastes disposed of in these pits.

A 1944 letter from Martin Whitaker, then Lab director, addresses soil percolation tests and hydraulic gradients%#151;measurements made to help ensure immobilization of the wastes from the settling basin. Earlier that spring, the hydrologic transport of contaminants in White Oak Creek had been a major issue of concern. Even before wastes were released to the creek system (March 1944), Morgan ran background analyses in White Oak Lake. Releases to White Oak Creek, White Oak Lake, and the Clinch River were carefully calculated and guided by medical knowledge of the time, documented in numerous historical memos. Space does not allow an expansion of this theme here, but the message that conscious attempts were made to control the releases of nuclides to the environment to prevent harm to human health is an important one that deserves more attention.

This photograph shows the locations of the early disposal operations at ORNL and the drained lake bed of White Oak Lake. The "solid waste burial ground" in the upper left is Solid Waste Storage Area 4 (SWSA 4).

Another early earth science facet surfaces in a 1944 report on contaminated sediments in White Oak Creek. It was hypothesized that fission products were transported in colloidal form; many of us have thought that such a transport process was a revelation of recent decades indeed it was not. It is also interesting to note that the ORNL Medical Department provided guidance in July 1944 to the Hanford facility in Washington on whether soil conditions there would allow safe disposal of radioactive waste in the ground. At the time, Hanford reactors were being readied to produce plutonium for use in the atomic bomb that ended World War II.

In 1948, the first real geologic mapping of the
Oak Ridge Reservation was started.

In 1948, the first survey of radionuclides in Watts Bar Reservoir was undertaken, representing a precursor to the Clinch River studies of later decades. Also, the first real geologic mapping of the Oak Ridge Reservation was started, but it would not be until 1962 that the first geologic map was published. I found it interesting that Laboratory management showed concern about liquid wastes, but not solid wastes, and paid attention to surface waters, not groundwater. Things would, however, change in a year or two.

Dilute and Disperse

In 1943, the original waste management concept was to hold all liquid radioactive waste in underground tanks for the single year that the Laboratory was expected to operate. However, the scope of the Laboratory expanded and the treatment process for separation of plutonium from the Graphite Reactor changed; it soon became evident that there was not enough storage capacity. The waste was then treated to precipitate essentially all the transuranic elements and many fission products, stored in settling ponds to allow precipitation and decay of short-lived isotopes, diluted with clean process water, and then discharged to White Oak Creek and Lake. In 1943, White Oak Dam was built across the creek to create the lake for this purpose. In regulated amounts, the waters from the lake were then discharged to the Clinch River for further dilution.

The Oak Ridge Reservation is characterized by a series of linear outcrop patterns of sedimentary rocks. Thrust faults are common, as shown by the lines with triangular symbols. The geology of the reservation is the most complex of any DOE site.

Increased Awareness in the 1950s

In the early 1950s, 50 monitoring wells were constructed around the Bethel Valley SWSAs, and Paris Stockdale, head of the Geology Department at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, recommended that the SWSAs be relocated to Melton Valley. He argued that Melton Valley would isolate nuclear waste better because of its shale-rich strata that take up and hold (sorb) radionuclides. He stated that the carbonates in Bethel Valley are prone to solution development--that is, they can be dissolved by infiltrating water, which could carry radionuclides away from the disposal site. So SWSA 4 was sited on shale just inside Melton Valley. However, it turned out to be too close to the floodplain of White Oak Creek. Ever since, ORNL has experienced problems with high releases of certain radionuclides into surface waters.

The movement of groundwater and its contaminants is studied at ORNL's unique subsurface facilities where researchers monitor groundwater flow at the lower end of Walker Branch Watershed. Phil Jardine works in the foreground; David O'Dell, back.

Also in early 1950s, changes were made in the way liquid wastes were handled. The pits—and later trenches—were used for disposal of some one million curies of radionuclides through the mid-1960s. Again, the sorption capacity of the Conasauga shales formed the basis for seepage systems that served as a giant ion exchange column, retaining most of the radionuclides and preventing their migration. Pits 4 and 5 were built to cross numerous bedding planes to maximize seepage, but the frustrations of rapid flow through fractures in the shale, when sorption did not occur, plagued the operation. Pump tests and geophysical well logging were used in the 1950s to help characterize the geology and hydrology of the pit and trench area. Evolving from this work and that at the SWSAs were pioneering experimental investigations in the late 1950s on the geochemistry of radionuclide sorption on mineral surfaces. Also, the first ideas of using hydrofracture for underground disposal of radioactive liquids were developed toward the end of the 1950s; this process would be used for several decades.

As a result of the passage of the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, which allowed commercial production of nuclear power, high-level wastes (HLW) became an issue also. Ed Struxness, a pioneer in ESD, and Morgan experimented with self-sintering, a process that is analogous to today's in situ vitrification ("Self-Sintering and In Situ Vitrification"). Struxness and others attended a benchmark conference in 1955 at Princeton University that addressed the issue of land disposal of HLW from reactors for the first time; the ramifications of this conference and impacts on ORNL would be felt for literally over three decades ("ORNL and High-Level Waste")

The drained lake represented an opportunity for
scientists to study radionuclide sorption on clays
and radionuclide uptake by biota.

In 1955, White Oak Lake was drained for many reasons, and it remained that way into the 1960s. The drained lake represented an opportunity for earth scientists to study radionuclide sorption on clays and to work closely with ecologists in the study of radionuclide uptake by biota.

Finally, at the end of the 1950s, the Clinch River Project was initiated to understand more about the behavior of contaminants in surface waters and their distribution and ecological impact downstream from the Oak Ridge Reservation. In 1995, we are still involved with this project as part of a major environmental restoration program, and we draw heavily from the early research that was directed by Struxness and others.

Lee Cooper measures abundances of stable isotopes of oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen to help understand the mechanisms and rates of movement of materials in the environment.

Self-Sintering and In Situ Vitrification

Self-sintering, which was patented in 1959, was a process developed by Ed Struxness and K.Z. Morgan to isolate and immobilize nuclear waste. The goal was to convert the waste to a glass that was resistant to leaching by water. The concept was to let the energy released by the radioactive decay of the waste heat the waste enough to drive off the water and eventually produce a solid, sintered glass product. A mixture of liquid waste, Conasauga shale, limestone, and soda ash were the reactants. Experiments using artificial heat were conducted in the laboratory and in the field across from Pit 1. This technology was not advanced partly because of concern about whether radioactive gas emissions from the heated waste could be controlled.

Today, four decades later, we are using artificial heat to melt the formerly liquid waste disposed of in Pit 1 to produce a leach-resistant glass waste form in the ground. This technique, called in situ vitrification (ISV), was developed at DOE's Pacific Northwest Laboratory. The reactants are the waste, Conasauga shale, and limestone. One of the greatest concerns has been whether emission of cesium-137 in gaseous form during the melt can be controlled. A method managing these emissions has been developed and will be used during an ISV test in 1996 at ORNL.

Uncertainty in the 1960s

Many activities from previous years continued throughout the 1960s. Liquid waste disposal at the pits and trenches was finally stopped in 1965 when hydrofracture was eventually implemented. This disposal process consisted of mixing the liquid with cement and other additives and injecting it under pressure through a well into the same shale unit underlying SWSA 4. However, because of the dipping strata, the injection was 1000 feet deep. This technique was used for liquid disposal until the early 1980s. To prove the feasibility of hydrofracture and show that the subsurface fractures would remain at depth (and therefore the wastes in cement would not rise to shallow depths or come to the surface) considerable geologic work was conducted by Wally deLaguna, who had come from the U.S. Geological Survey to ORNL in the mid-1950s. However, little concern was shown about contamination of groundwater by injected wastes.

Project Salt Vault, the proposed plan to dispose of HLW in salt deposits near Lyons, Kansas, was well under way (see "ORNL and High-Level Waste"). Geologic and hydrologic studies led to the siting of a new burial ground, SWSA 5, at a better location than SWSA 4. In spite of ORNL's having learned a lot about environmental protection over the previous 10 years, there was still a lack of attention given to monitoring groundwater around the disposal sites, primarily because the Atomic Energy Commission did not recognize the importance of this transport medium and did not support such studies.

In 1967, the Walker Branch Watershed project got under way. The primary emphasis of this project was on ecological aspects of the watershed, including the biogeochemical cycle the chemical interactions between biological materials and chemicals in the atmosphere, soil, groundwater, and surface waters. But there emerged a fairly heavy emphasis on earth science studies associated with soil chemistry and hydrology. Indeed, this project represented one of the best integrated studies drawing on the life and earth sciences, and it persists today in investigations of subsurface transport phenomena.

During this decade ESD staff became heavily involved
in chemical studies of non-nuclear solid waste.

Earlier, as a graduate student in 1963, I wrote to deLaguna asking about summer employment. I saved his reply, which offers an insightful view of those timesone that translates to the present. He wrote one sentence: "Dear Mr. Stow, Our program is so uncertain I have little idea where I will be or what I will be doing next summer." The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.

For decades, ORNL researchers have monitored the nature and extent of contaminants that have entered the river system to the south. Here, staff members Clell Ford (right) and university students Pam Krahl (center) and Suzanna Schorn prepare to take sediment samples from the river bottom.

ORNL and High-Level Waste

Dealing with water in direct contact with radioactive wastes in disposal trenches (like the trench shown here) is one of many environmental restoration challenges facing DOE site managers today.

Based largely on its leadership in innovative treatment of high-level radioactive waste and its participation in the 1955 Princeton Conference, ORNL was named the lead organization for identifying a bedded salt deposit for siting a repository for permanent disposal of HLW from commercial nuclear power plants and other facilities. In 1958, a salt deposit near Lyons, Kansas, attracted interest. By the early 1960s, ORNL staff conducted experiments to simulate actual disposal of waste as Project Salt Vault was born. During the middle of the decade, canned reactor fuel assemblies were used for extended experiments, resulting in conceptual repository design in 1970, particularly by staff from the Chemical Technology and Engineering divisions. Progress was rapidly being made toward an actual HLW repository, but in 1972, things came apart as the state of Kansas adopted a resistant position. The government is now encountering resistance to the latest potential repository site of its choice Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Later in the 1970s, Oak Ridge was named as the leader for the Office of Waste Isolation (OWI), which was charged with examining a variety of rock types nationwide in search for viable candidates for a repository; OWI came to Oak Ridge largely because of ORNL's demonstrated leadership with Project Salt Vault. ORNL staff in many divisions provided technical and socioeconomic support for this effort into the early 1980s, even after OWI was moved to the Battelle facility in Columbus, Ohio. ESD became involved in the "Crystalline Rock Program" for the southern Appalachian Mountains and then participated with the Chemical Technology Division on a technical (geological, thermal, economic, etc.) assessment of various sedimentary rock types for HLW disposal from the early 1980s until 1988, when this activity was terminated. In addition, ESD provided earth science support to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for repository design during the 1980s.

Diversity in the 1970s

Many new activities were started during this decade, and others persisted from the previous one. One of the most significant events was the cancellation of Project Salt Vault after decades of work because of resistance by the state of Kansas (see "ORNL and High-Level Waste"). ESD was formed as a division in 1972 and, in 1975, an Earth Sciences Section was established. During the early 1970s, the National Science Foundation started the Ecological Analysis of Trace Contaminants Program. In reviewing this program's activities at ORNL, Inoticed that the type of research performed involved low-temperature aqueous geochemistry with heavy emphasis on applying principles of earth sciences. Some eight ORNL divisions were involved in development and application of instruments for measuring concentrations of elements and isotopes in natural systems, sediment transport of heavy metals, behavior of toxic metals in soil and stream systems, computer simulation of sediment loading in reservoirs, and transport modeling. It was a really heavy "earth science" effort in close coordination with ecology, a point that emphasizes the highly interdisciplinary nature of our science.

A group of scientists in ESD became internationally
known for their inter-disciplinary approach to
understanding the global carbon cycle.

During this period, increased emphasis was placed on understanding the behavior of carbon in the environment. The global carbon program was initiated and, although relatively few earth scientists were actively involved, again the principles of geochemical cycling and atmospheric dynamics brought a very interdisciplinary flavor to the effort. Over the years this program spawned a small group of scientists in ESD who became internationally known for their interdisciplinary approach to understanding the global carbon cycle. In addition, this program was a basis for establishment of the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center, which handles data and information analysis on carbon dioxide and its impact on global change.

Although considerable attention has been given in recent years to geologic and hydrologic aspects of ORNL's SWSAs, it was not until the early-to-mid-1970s that real effort was directed toward hiring new earth sciences staff and toward a more focused program for the burial grounds. Studies were initiated at the SWSAs to quantify and characterize contaminated soil and groundwater so that a better understanding of the mechanisms for radionuclide migration could guide selection of the most effective remedial actions. The latter part of the decade saw a major effort evolve in studies to identify and measure concentrations of contaminants in soil and groundwater at the SWSAs, leading to application of new in situ engineered barriers designed to inhibit radionuclide movement. Sophisticated groundwater modeling supported this work and monitoring of streams in Oak Ridge Reservation watersheds was used to understand hydrologic balances and the effects of the remediation.

Finally, during this decade ESD staff became heavily involved in chemical studies of non-nuclear solid waste and other materials. Diverse projects directed at the characterization of leachates from coal and coal ash, organic-rich shale, industrial waste, and sanitary landfills emerged so that the toxicity of the leachates and their impact on groundwaters could be assessed.

During the last part of the decade, Ed Struxness retired. Although a biologist by professional training, no other single person did more to shape the development of the earth sciences at ESD (see Ed Struxness). His vision, organizational skills, and leadership were truly unique in building the diverse programs.

The original hydrofracture facility is shown in the center of the picture, with the new facility in the foreground. SWSA 4 is in the upper left corner and SWSA 5 lies behind the old hydrofracture site. These burial grounds contain low-level radioactive wastes.

Ed Struxness

Ed Struxness had a strong influence on ORNL activities in the earth and life sciences. He was instrumental in organizing and implementing the early Clinch River study. He provided insights on the need to apply principles of geology, geochemistry, and hydrology to properly dispose of HLW, as well as low-level waste in the ORNL SWSAs. His guidance was essential to building a foundation to ensure environmentally safe disposal. His innovative development of self-sintering technology for high-level waste disposal was one major reason for his involvement in the Princeton Conference in 1955, which led directly to ORNL's decades-long leadership in repository siting. Along with Wally deLaguna, Struxness helped develop hydrofracture, which was a good disposal methodology at the time for the fission product waste it was designed to handle. Finally, Struxness had the foresight to hire Stan Auerbach, who became the first ESD director and carried on the effort to develop the earth sciences at ORNL.

Remedial Actions and the 1980s

By now ESD had a reasonably large number of earth scientists on staff, and the attention given to proper management of ORNL's burial grounds had grown considerably with more field, hydrologic, and engineering projects and state-of-the-art computer modeling of contaminant transport phenomena. In addition, the National Low-Level Radioactive Waste Program was managed for DOE out of ESD, and we began to provide hydrogeologic support to the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant, an initiative that would grow there and elsewhere. In recognition of the need for a more basic understanding of the physics and chemistry of the behavior of contaminants in the subsurface, DOE started the Subsurface Science Program, and ESD was heavily involved. Unique and highly sophisticated subsurface facilities were constructed in Melton Valley and Bethel Valley for soil, hydrogeochemical, and modeling studies.

To locate historical disposal sites or to identify karst cavities through which groundwater flows, ORNL scientists have developed highly sensitive geophysical methods for imaging objects below the surface. Here, Bob Kennard performs a subsurface study.

Perhaps one of the most widely publicized incidents of the decade involved the release of information on mercury losses from the Y-12-Plant over the years. This event catalyzed DOE's development of a more formal program of environmental cleanup at its sites across the nation, and ESD staff drew on their decades-long experience with mercury to help out. ESD leadership continues in its studies of the environmental behavior of mercury today and its developments of techniques to measure mercury concentrations and clean up waste containing mercury. (see "ORNL's Mercury Expertise").

Other new initiatives got under way. The study of wet and dry deposition of gases and particulate matter, including acidic matter, onto forest systems led to development and application of top-quality measurement systems and innovative sampling strategies. The Integrated Forest Study, dealing with the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in soils and forest systems, was a large work-for-others project in ESD. Studies of the transport and fate of trace metals, organics, and nuclides (natural and anthropogenic) in river-estuarine and coastal environments and isotope studies of snow melt and marine arctic systems were also significant activities. Research on non-nuclear solid waste continued well into the decade, and ESD supported the Health Sciences Research Division in opening an office in Grand Junction, Colorado, where field-oriented restoration work continues today.

A new hydrofracture operation was started, and another 750,000 curies of activity were injected between shale layers. However, this time problems were experienced in the well and injection procedures; the demise of the technology followed swiftly, leaving a legacy that, depending on the outcome of environmental restoration investigations, could be frightfully expensive to rectify.

ORNL's Mercury Expertise

Although ESD has been involved in the study of many contaminants, the one contaminant most associated with the division is mercury. Beginning in 1972, the National Science Foundation's Ecological Analysis of Trace Contaminants Program supported fundamental studies of the behavior of mercury in the Holston River, and ESD staff published a benchmark article on mercury emissions from industrial wastes in Nature in 1977, the same year that staff were asked to advise the Spanish government on the toxicity of mercury associated with the new Almadén mine.

ESD was intimately involved with the revelation in the early 1980s that large amounts of mercury had been released to the environment at the Oak Ridge

Y-12 Plant, and it was ESD staff who were marshalled into a role of providing technical guidance to the Y-12 Plant and to DOE on the extent of the mercury contamination, ways to control and monitor it, and finally ways to remediate it. The fundamental work on micrometeorology of mercury from fossil fuel combustion and its global distribution is heavily rooted in the efforts of a few ESD staff, and the 1995 Environmental Protection Agency report to Congress on atmospheric releases of mercury drew heavily on information generated by ESD. The international recognition of Steven Lindberg and Ralph Turner for their pioneering research on this elusive metal is well deserved. (For a detailed description of recent ESD achievements in mercury analysis and removal, see the Mercury articles in "Technical Highlights.")

The 1990s

The decade started with the loss of two highly valued staff members. Bill Boegly, Jr., an engineer who had been active in Project Salt Vault, self-sintering, remedial actions, and construction of the main ESD building, died after a bout with cancer. Ernie Bondietti, internationally known for his work on actinide geochemistry and soil systems, died as the result of an auto accident following a scientific conference. Their losses were felt throughout the division.

For the first time in over 40 years, there are almost
no high-level waste activities at ORNL.

For the first time in over 40-years, there are almost no HLW activities at ORNL (see "ORNL and High-Level Waste"). ESD work is dominated by innovative initiatives directed toward environmental restoration on the Oak Ridge Reservation, as well as at the Paducah and Portsmouth uranium enrichment plants, and elsewhere. In situ treatment technologies designed either to destroy or to immobilize contaminants or to prevent their interactions with groundwater are being developed. For instance, in situ vitrification at ORNL and deep-soil mixing with vapor removal of organics at Portsmouth draw heavily on a healthy blend of earth and engineering sciences. The importance of such cost-effective applications, coupled with expanded computer capabilities for improved decision analysis, cannot be overlooked in an era of tight budgets in the restoration world.

Melting radioactive waste in the ground to form a leach-resistant glassy material under a metal hood (shown here) is a remediation method that has been tested at ORNL.

A significant milestone was reached with the updated mapping of the Oak Ridge Reservation, confirming that it has the most complex geology (and resulting hydrology) of any DOE site nationwide. This, coupled with high rainfall, an active groundwater­surface water system, long use of diverse disposal methods, and a nearby population center, makes the restoration challenges at Oak Ridge the greatest in the DOE system. Partially as a result of this complexity, a company-wide Groundwater Program Office was formed in the early 1990s; it is unique within the DOE system because it provides highly technical guidance on remediation and groundwater issues for five sites. Other new initiatives included data management for atmospheric studies (Atmospheric Radiation Program) and biogeochemical studies ( Data Archive Center).

ESD now has a large cadre of earth scientists, including 75 who hold graduate degrees, reflecting a steady growth since 1972. Over the years, the emphasis on earth sciences has changed from soil science to more geochemistry, hydrology, and applied engineering sciences. Activities of ESD earth scientists are spread across the United States and in many foreign countries.


The earth sciences have played a key role in the evolution of ORNL, although their role has often been behind the scenes. As for the earliest use of earth science principles in waste disposal and the attitudes of some of the earliest scientists toward disposal of liquid waste, there is a greater story to be told one that deserves more investigation. Indeed, earth science principles actually were involved in the original decision to site part of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. The abundance of surface water and electricity (from hydroelectric plants), the topography that allowed each facility to be placed in a separate valley (to help isolate accidental releases), and inexpensive land (poor farm land because of topography) were among the reasons this site was selected.

Understanding the effect of global change on the environment will continue to be a high-profile need.

Even in these uncertain times (remember 1963?) opportunities for the earth sciences are many, and these should be clarified. Certainly, efforts to meet the environmental restoration needs of DOE (and DOD) will draw heavily on this discipline, and innovative ways to blend basic research with applied programs are paramount. Understanding the effect of global change on the environment will continue to be a high-profile need, and there will be more attention on earth resources, especially water. Increased interactions among earth scientists and engineers across the ORNL complex seem essential at this time. All earth scientists are familiar with James Hutton's principle of uniformitarianism: "the present is the key to the past." We must look toward the future, however, and draw on another phrase that, at least, partially summarizes the situation: others' sins of yesterday are the key to our tomorrows.

B I O G R A P H I C A L Sketches

Stephen H. Stow is the program manager of Environmental Management for ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division (ESD). From 1988 to 1995, he was head of ESD's Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Section.After joining the ORNL staff in 1980, he became program manager for the Laboratory's Waste Isolation Program and the Sedimentary Rock/Geoscience Technology Support Programs. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Stow has a Ph.D. degree in geochemistry from Rice University. Before coming to ORNL, he worked as a research scientist for Continental Oil Company in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and as a professor of geology at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where he was also on staff with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. He has also served as a private consultant for geologic waste disposal and minerals exploration. He has been chairman of the International Commission on Hazardous Wastes (International Association of Hydrogeologists). He served as the program leader for development of the "natural system" portion of the new DOE-American Nuclear Society International Conference on High-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal. He has been active in science education initiatives in many earth science societies. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Geological Society of America.

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