Laurier Collette

 
Dr. Leslie Smith
Montréal
Canada
 

Research Topic

Cryohydrogeology - Modeling unsaturated water flow through heterogeneous waste rock under freezing conditions

Research Group

Diavik Mine Waste Rock Project

Research Description

Water is one Canada's most important resources and is vital to ecosystem sustainability. Stockpiles of waste rock generated by mining activities are often important sources of acid rock drainage, a challenging environmental issue. My research aims to quantify the numerous processes controlling infiltration through an experimental pile in the Northwest Territories based on the comprehension of flow mechanisms occurring through its four-meter-thick sediment cover and underlying waste rock. Numerical models will be used to interpret an extensive data set accumulated over a period of eight years. My objective is to advance the understanding of groundwater flow in typical Nordic settings. In northern areas of Canada, frequent unsaturated conditions, heterogeneity of waste rock, freeze-thaw cycles and the occurrence of permafrost all affect infiltration of water through stockpiles. The results of this work are expected to help mitigate environmental and economic risks of future geotechnical, mining or energy projects. Such risks include lake and river pollution, drinking water contamination, damage to fauna and flora’s habitat, as well as requirements for major investments in water treatment and remediation.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I decided to study at UBC for several reasons. Firstly, I found a challenging research project tailored to my academic interests. Secondly, UBC is located in the greatest city on the Canadian West Coast, Vancouver, which is probably the best place in Canada for outdoor and adventure enthusiasts. But mostly I was drawn to the prospect of meeting new people, travelling, and living somewhere other than home: my journey has helped understand who I am, where I am from, and where I am going.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

It's an interesting way to meet new people, researchers, and professionals while having a challenging, but rewarding learning experience. It's also about acquiring a state of the art expertise to be able to be part of the leading solutions for today's and tomorrow's world issues.