Amargosa Desert Research Site Collaborator Information

Science Center Objects

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.

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Research Collaboration

Background

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, andraski@usgs.gov) and the NRP co-leader (presently David Stonestrom, dastones@usgs.gov) 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.

 

Guidelines for Release of Data and Related Information

Background on USGS Policy

Policy of the USGS is to make the results of its scientific investigations available in an impartial manner to the public. Various chapters of the USGS Manual state the policies, procedures, and responsibilities for review, approval, and release of data and information (500.8, .9, .14, .24).

Types of Information and Public Release Mechanisms

Scientific results of research at the ADRS will continue to be disseminated through articles in technical journals, USGS publications, presentations at technical and professional meetings, briefings, and field trips at the site. The ADRS web site is used to communicate current information about the project, including research objectives and accomplishments, a schedule of planned activities, a directory of participating researchers, an up-to-date site-related bibliography, and data and related information.

Approval and Public Release of Data and Related Information

Release of data and related information gathered by USGS and non-USGS investigators will follow the standard policies of the respective organizations. The following summarizes the guidelines for implementation of this policy for reports authored or co-authored by a USGS investigator at the ADRS.

Environmental and related quality-control data are thoroughly checked and incorporated into a draft manuscript. The draft manuscript is evaluated by a minimum of two peer reviewers to assure that it is technically sound and that the editorial quality is appropriate for the intended readership. The manuscript includes a description, with appropriate references, of the steps and methods used in the collection, analysis, and error analysis of the subject data. The manuscript includes any quality-control data associated with the dataset, and to the extent possible, a clear statement of the estimated uncertainty of the data. A statement explaining the broad significance of the data also is typically included. The draft manuscript is revised by the author(s) and adequate response to review comments is documented. USGS approval for publication and(or) release is granted after inspection at the Water Science Center, Regional, or Headquarters level depending on the origin of, and degree of interpretation in the manuscript. Concurrent with submittal for approval, a copy of the manuscript is sent to the ADRS Coordinator.

All manuscripts approved for release as a USGS report are released on the USGS publications warehouse web site (http://pubs.usgs.gov). All reports that are released are included in the ADRS bibliography.

A USGS manuscript approved for release in an outside publication (for example, a technical journal, or a conference proceedings) is submitted to the editor of that publication and, thus, additionally undergoes the usual review, approval, and release policies of that publication.

Release and Archiving of All ADRS Publications and Internet Announcements

Prior to publication in the scientific literature or release on the USGS publications warehouse web site, the Coordinator, Toxics Program and the ADRS Coordinator are notified of the release date and are provided a copy of the associated news release. A final, publication copy of all journal articles, reports, conference papers, and abstracts is sent to the ADRS Coordinator, who oversees the maintenance of an up-to-date bibliography on the ADRS home page, and a complete library of site-related publications.