Kathleen Smits, Ph.D., P.E.

Assistant Professor

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Smits Research Group - Research

Land/Atmospheric Interactions

In this work, we are evaluating different models of bare soil evaporation formulated with different land surface boundary conditions and assumptions.

Schematic of the tank used in the experiment.

Photos of experimental test at the start of the experiment (t = 0 days) before evaporation was induced at the soil surface and at day 2.1 of the experiment (t = 2.1 days). Bottom figure shows the depth of the evaporative front (Le), annotated by the blue dye deposition. (Smits et al., WRR, in review).

Kate has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in fluid mechanics, surface and groundwater hydrology, contaminant transport, hazardous waste site remediation, introductory environmental engineering, introductory civil engineering and field engineering. Her current courses include:

Understanding the Environmental Conditions that Affect Mine Detection Performance

In this work, we are studying soil moisture and thermal behavior in the vicinity of buried objects, such as mines, rocks and plastic boxes (above).

Left: experimental set up of 2-D tank with heterogeneous packing and surrogate landmine (black box). Tank is instrumented with soil moisture, pressure, relative humidity and temperature sensors. Right: simulation of surrogate landmine during heating. The surface plot shows the vapor transport while the contour plot shows the temperature distribution at a certain time (Smiths et al., 2012, IEEE (in review)).

Small tempe cell experiments conducted to determine the thermal and hydraulic properties of soils under varying soil moisture and temperature conditions. Data used to develop thermal and hydraulic relationships used in upscaling. (Smits et al., 2010 Vadose Zone Journal and Smits et al., 2012 Vadose Zone Journal (in review)).

Vapor Intrusion from NAPL Sources and Groundwater Plumes

In this work, we investigate a novel application of electrical resistance tomography (ERT) to characterize key parameters that affect VI pathway evolution. Laboratory tests are performed using an intermediate scale two-dimensional sand tank. The tank is instrumented with moisture and temperature sensors.

Above: Schematic of the sand tank apparatus dimensions with reservoirs used to control water table elevation and moisture sensors installed along a vertical profile. Electrical resistance tomograhy (ERT) data was collected along a surface profile with changing saturation conditions.

Sand tank apparatus with moisture sensors and ERT instrumentation installed.

ERT inversion cross section.

Shannon et al., 2012 (in preparation).