Allen M Shapiro, Ph.D.

Groundwater Flow and Chemical Transport in Fractured Rock and Karst Aquifers

Vulnerability of Shallow Fractured Rock Aquifers


Dr. Allen Shapiro is a Senior Research Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). He is a member of the Water Cycle Branch in the Earth System Processes Division (ESPD) of the Water Mission Area (WMA). Dr. Shapiro conducts research on groundwater flow and chemical transport in complex geologic environments, including fractured rock and karst aquifers. Dr. Shapiro’s research has focused on the development of field techniques and equipment, and methods of integrating and interpreting geologic, geophysical, hydraulic, and geochemical information in the characterization of fractured rock aquifers. Dr. Shapiro has described fundamental processes of ground water flow and chemical transport that are unique to geologic environments characterized by significant heterogeneity, including the effects of diffusion of constituents between mobile water in fractures and immobile water in the intrinsic rock porosity.  He has also investigated the effect of scale on the hydraulic and transport properties of fractured rock through carefully designed in situ testing,  monitoring, and modeling investigations conducted over physical dimensions of meters to kilometers.  Dr. Shapiro has also been active in the characterization and remediation of various contaminants in fractured rock, including groundwater contamination by Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs).  Dr. Shapiro’s current research focuses on the intermittent vulnerability of shallow fractured rock aquifers to contamination from pathogens or surface contaminants stemming from rapid infiltration following precipitation events or extended periods of above average precipitation.  

Dr. Shapiro’s research is of importance to many federal agencies. The Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) have funded Dr. Shapiro’s research on the fate, transport, and remediation of DNAPLs in fractured rock aquifers. Dr. Shapiro has also been a frequent advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on issues related to the characterization and remediation of contaminants in fractured rock aquifers at Superfund sites, and he has prepared and delivered training to EPA Remedial Project Managers on site characterization, monitoring, modeling, and remediation in fractured rock aquifers. Dr. Shapiro’s research has been applied in the areas of geotechnical engineering, which have included the characterization and modeling of groundwater migration into the underground tunnels of the Washington, DC Metro, and his research has also been of significance in groundwater supply and the design of underground facilities for the isolation of anthropogenic wastes.

Dr. Shapiro is a graduate of Princeton University with a Ph.D. in Civil and Geological Engineering. Prior to joining the USGS, Dr. Shapiro conducted hydrologic research at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He has been an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Shapiro has patented equipment for conducting hydraulic tests and collecting groundwater samples for geochemical analyses in fractured rock aquifers, and he has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Shapiro has served as an Associate Editor of Journal of Hydrology and the journal Ground Water. Dr. Shapiro is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and in 2004, the National Ground Water Association selected Dr. Shapiro as the Distinguished Darcy Lecturer, for which he lectured on his research, both nationally and internationally, at over 50 universities and research institutes. Dr. Shapiro has also served on National Research Council panels that have produced extensive reports on key engineering and scientiric issues facing the Nation.