Geoenvironmental Engineering

Geoenvironmental Engineering

Program Coordinator:
Charles D. Shackelford
(970) 491-5051

Geoenvironmental Engineering is the engineering of geologic (earthen) and geosynthetic (polymer) materials for problems related to the protection of human health and the environment. The primary problems addressed by Geoenvironmental Engineers pertain to the protection of uncontaminated regions of the subsurface as well as the remediation or clean up of regions of the subsurface that have been contaminated by one or more events (e.g., industrial chemical spills, leaking waste containment facilities, leaking above-ground and underground storage tanks, infiltration of pesticides, etc.).

Since the nature of the problems addressed in Geoenvironmental Engineering is diverse, solutions to geoenvironmental problems typically require the expertise of a variety of professionals who possess a similar diversity in terms of educational background and training. Because of this diversity, efficient and effective technical interaction among these professionals can be problematic. Thus, professionals who have attained a breadth of knowledge in a variety of the disciplines associated with geoenvironmental problems can facilitate the professional interaction needed for successful completion of geoenvironmental projects within a multidisciplinary setting.

Accordingly, the Geoenvironmental Engineering program at CSU is an interdisciplinary program representing the intersection of Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and Groundwater Engineering. Students in Geoenvironmental Engineering typically receive formal  in-depth  education in one of the three primary sub-disciplines of Geoenvironmental Engineering, as well as formal education in one or both of the other sub-disciplines and in several supporting science based disciplines (e.g., geological sciences, soil sciences).  

Graduate studies in Geoenvironmental Engineering typically consider issues such as the following:

  • Effects of waste liquids on barrier material properties (compatibility)
  • Containment strategies for emerging waste forms (e.g. nanowaste, pharmaceutical waste, animal waste (prions))
  • Contaminant transport through low-permeability soil barriers
  • Development and evaluation of novel containment barrier materials
  • Development and evaluation of subsurface remediation technologies
  • Diffusion through polymer materials used as components of engineered barrier systems
  • Evaluation of flow and transport models for predicting barrier and remediation system performance
  • Geosynthetics for containment and remediation applications
  • Geotechnical aspects of waste containment and remediation systems
  • Leaching of contaminants from stabilized/solidified waste forms
  • Mine waste containment and remediation
  • Physical, chemical, and biological processes governing in situ remediation technologies
  • Physico-chemical interactions between soils and contaminant liquids (sorption, ion exchange)
  • Unsaturated flow through soil covers used for waste disposal