A USGS goal, under the auspices of the Toxic Substances Hydrology (Toxics) Program, is to provide and maintain the Amargosa Desert Research Site (ADRS) as a field laboratory that will bring together scientists from various disciplines, agencies, and universities for focused study of processes that affect migration and fate of contaminants in a complex (i.e., real-world) setting. The main purpose is not to answer site-specific questions, but to gain transferable knowledge about mechanisms that control migration and fate of contaminants in the environment. The ultimate product is the dissemination of findings to the scientific community and the public. The availability of an established field laboratory and the development and use of existing strong links between USGS and non-USGS researchers provides the synergism that has proven beneficial to the success of collaborative investigations at Toxics Program field sites across the Nation. Support for research at the ADRS is contingent upon availability of funds from internal and external sources and successful research grant applications. Planning and coordination of the integrated research effort at the ADRS requires good communication among all participants. "Bottom-up" planning, with an emphasis on personal and collective initiative, is ardently encouraged.
Initiation of New Research
Hypotheses that provide the basis for new and innovative research at the ADRS are encouraged. In many cases new research efforts result from collegial discussions or from requests for proposals by a potential funding agency. Multidisciplinary research at the ADRS needs to be developed and implemented in coordination and consultation with the other ADRS researchers to avoid unnecessary, or unintentional, duplication of efforts, and to ensure that the proposed work can be supported by the site's infrastructure. To initiate new research at the ADRS, proposed work needs to be communicated by E-mail to the ADRS Coordinator (presently Brian Andraski, firstname.lastname@example.org) and the NRP co-leader (presently David Stonestrom, email@example.com) in the form of a draft research plan. The draft plan should be specific about the research hypothesis, objective, and approach. The draft plan will be circulated to members of the present ADRS research team for feedback. Modification of the draft plan may be required and the potential investigator is obligated to ensure that any identified conflicts are resolved before proceeding with the proposed work. An ADRS meeting will be held once a year to provide an informal forum for team members to discuss recent findings, future plans, and research proposals. Participation by at least one member from each research team (active or proposed) is requested. Liaisons from regulatory and land management agencies can be invited to participate in these meetings to continue to communicate published ADRS results to them and to enhance coordination of research priorities with their needs and ongoing activities.
Active Research--Planning, Coordination, and Technical Support
The USGS, under its 1983 right-of-way reservation established with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and through agreements with the State of Nevada, is accountable for activities at the ADRS. In addition to the continued research at the site, the USGS Nevada Water Science Center (WSC) serves as coordinator for the overall research effort and has ultimate responsibility for decisions concerning the site's operation. Therefore, all plans for field work must be communicated to the ADRS Coordinator. The annual ADRS meeting also provides an opportunity to discuss and coordinate future plans with the research team. Activities such as the installation of wells and instrument boreholes, the construction of ancillary facilities, and seismic surveys require that the appropriate permissions and(or) amendment of the ADRS right-of-way reservation be obtained before proceeding; the permission/amendment process typically takes 12 months. The land-management regulations also state that, within a reasonable time after terminating use of wells, etc., the holder shall, unless instructed otherwise, remove such items and restore the site to a condition satisfactory to the authorized land officers. Thus, contingency plans need to be developed for this eventuality. Within the limits of the site's infrastructure, the Nevada WSC will provide assistance in planning specific field efforts, in coordinating major field activities, and in developing contingency plans. Prior to field activities, requests for local field support should be sent to the ADRS Coordinator and a notification of planned field work should be sent to the full ADRS team (an E-mail distribution list is provided at this website). The notification can be brief, but specific about the type of data/samples that you intend to collect, the location of the work, and any instrumentation you will deploy. The amount of information in, and the timing of, the advance notification will depend on the type of field work and your technical support needs (if any). This notification process will be used to provide an up-to-date "Schedule of Planned Activities" on the ADRS-Internet home page and to enhance the opportunity for team members to coordinate conjunctive field trips. The utility of the facilities and the unique data base developed over the years at the ADRS is well recognized. Within the limits of the site's infrastructure, the USGS Nevada WSC will continue to maintain the site and will provide field and basic data support, as needed, for the benefit of all researchers. Efforts will include the service, repair, and(or) replacement of ADRS instrumentation and ancillary facilities deemed necessary to support ongoing research. Field data collected by the Nevada District (e.g., weather, soil moisture, ground-water level) will be entered into an ADRS data base and will be made available, upon request, to members of the research team. To enhance data management and sharing among geographically dispersed research participants, team members can contribute documented data sets from published work for incorporation into and release from this centralized data base. The Nevada WSC will also develop and maintain an up-to-date, detailed map of experimental-site and instrument locations within the ADRS using information provided by participating researchers; this map will be used to aid project planning and coordination.
Additional Support Provided by the USGS Nevada Water Science Center
Another support role played by the Nevada WSC is in the area of communication-internal and external. The ADRS Coordinator serves as a communication link between the Toxics Program and the research team. The information exchange ranges from informal ADRS/Toxics news, to forwarding announcements of requests for proposals from potential funding agencies, to more formal documents needed by the Toxics Program. Status reports that summarize accomplishments and significant findings will be compiled and distributed biannually by the ADRS Coordinator. The Nevada WSC also will be responsible for maintenance and incremental development of the publicly accessible ADRS-Internet home page.