Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Amargosa Desert Research Site
panoramic of adrs

Contact Information

Brian Andraski
Phone: (775) 887-7636


Dave Stonestrom
Phone: (650) 329-4528


Use of Results

Results of studies at the Amargosa Desert Research Site (ADRS) are contributing to the characterization and understanding of arid-site processes. The findings have far reaching implications for water resources management in such environments, both in terms of waste disposal and of ground-water availability. Long-term, benchmark information and the testing and development of methods and models at the ADRS have helped others in their characterization of flow and transport processes at other arid sites in the United States and the World. 

Photo at ADRS

"I just read the article, "Plant-Based Plume-Scale Mapping of Tritium Contamination in Desert Soils," and wanted to express my appreciation. This is the first time anyone has mapped subsurface vapor-phase tritium migration using plants, but I doubt it will be the last. The technique that your team worked out, and the quality of the verification that was conducted, virtually ensure that this method will be used again and again. Providing a new technique that saves both time and money without sacrificing data quality is a real contribution, and one which may improve characterization of many environmental sites."

Steve Rock, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, written communication, 2005

"I have found the paleohydrologic investigations of the USGS involving sub-soil nitrates and chlorides in arid regions to be both instructive and relevant to my current research endeavors with perchlorate and oxy-anions."

Gregory Harvey, Environmental Safety and Health Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, written communication, 2004.


Photo of sampling at ADRS

"I would like to thank all of the ADRS research team, and especially you for the cooperation and help that allowed us to perform our study at the ADRS. The ADRS truly is serving as a field laboratory for the study of vadose-zone hydrology in arid regions. The long-term information and basic data gathered at the site is of benefit to many researchers that have a wide variety of interests. The generous data sharing and the up-to-date website are not only saving money and time for those doing research at the ADRS, but are also accelerating improved understanding hydrologic processes."

Weiquan Dong, Research Assistant and Ph.D. candidate, Department of Geoscience, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, May 20, 2004


ET Station at ADRS

"The ADRS studies provide valuable guidelines that help establish regulatory minimums on demonstrations of adequate design, numerical modeling, and performance monitoring for alternative evapotranspiration (ET) landfill caps. The high quality, in-situ data on long-term soil- water movement verifies the realistic range of critical model parameters for the dry and sparse-vegetation conditions that often prevail in parts of Montana. The ADRS studies also provide insights on the effects of plants and soil properties on cap performance, and suggest that ET cap performance may actually improve over the 30 years of landfill post-closure care."

Tim Stepp, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, written communication, 2002.


Waste at ADRS

"Research activities at the Amargosa Desert Research Site are of great inspiration on the aspect of waste disposal in arid environments, of which so little is known. Results of the Amargosa Desert studies will be of great help in our work to identify suitable sites and to develop guidelines for waste disposal in Namibia, a country with a highly variable climatic setting and large areas that receive very limited precipitation, such as the Namib and Kalahari Deserts."

Sindila Mwiya, Engineering and Environment Subdivision, Geological Survey of Namibia, written communication, 2001.


Shaft being installed at ADRS

"Soil-water measurement technology developed at the Amargosa Desert Research Site is being used to assess the hydrologic performance of an evapotranspiration landfill cover at the US Army Fort Carson military base, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The techniques provide a means to assess the performance of unconventional landfill covers that can be constructed at a considerably lower cost than conventional covers."

Patrick McGuire, Senior Soil Scientist, Earth Tech, Sheboygan, WI and Donald Moses, Chief, HTW Geotechnical Section, Engineering Division, US Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha, NE, written communication, 2001.

This work is of particular interest to regulators, U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy, and industry professionals because it is the first alternative landfill-cover design to be approved by the state of Colorado.

Under a contract from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has requested ADRS multiple-year meteorologic and hydrologic data for use in the development of numerical models for calculating water movement through the unsaturated zone at low-level radioactive waste sites. Water-flux meters designed by PNNL have also been installed at the ADRS in a collaborative effort (1) to test, under hyper-arid climate conditions, the performance of meters which are being used to document net water infiltration into waste covers at the Hanford site and (2) to support the ADRS study of vadose-zone transport. The water-flux meter installation and testing effort is supported by U.S. Department of Energy (SUBCON) and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding. (Glendon Gee, Senior Staff Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, personal communication, 2001).


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Page Last Modified: August 11, 2015