Dr Wendy Timms joins the School of Mining, UNSW

Dr Wendy Timms has been appointed a Senior Lecturer in the UNSW School of Mining Engineering. She will teach areas such as geology and water in mining, and will continue to lead research on low permeability barriers as part of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT). She is an expert on the hydrology and geochemistry of barriers known as aquitards and is a co-convenor of a specialist session at the International Association of Hydrogeologists 2012 Congress. Dr Timms has over 16 years of professional experience in consulting, government and research and has worked in Canada and Australia on water and waste issues in both mining and agriculture. She holds a B.Sc HonsI (Newcastle) in geology, hydrology and chemistry and a PhD (UNSW, 2001) in Environmental Engineering. She is currently working on recharge, seepage and water quality issues at sites in the Gunnedah area, Sydney Basin, Queensland and Saskatchewan, Canada. She has also trained in geochemical and flow modelling at the Colorado School of Mines, applying that knowledge to help protect aquifers that are essential for water supply.

The UNSW School of Mining Engineering is a leading Australian provider of training for mining engineers. It is a national joint venture member of Mining Education Australia, delivering world class undergraduate education. The Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices, located in the UNSW School of Mining Engineering, is a provider of training and research focussed on new mining practices and sustainability. Wendy and Dr David Laurence (www.acsmp.unsw.edu.au) recently commenced meeting with stakeholders and researchers to discuss key questions on water in mining and coal seam gas (CSG).

Wendy brings a new focus to Mining Engineering education on water, dewatering, waste management, and to leading practices for water and environmental issues. The NCGRT aquitard research team led by Wendy and Professor Ian Acworth, includes Dr Adam Hartland who specialises in tracing of seepage with a suite of inorganic, organic and isotopic signatures, and Dr Anna Greve who is working on innovative geophysical techniques. Mark Whelan, centrifuge engineer, is responsible for the new NCGRT centrifuge facility, located at Water Research Laboratory, Manly Vale campus. Aquitard research is part of a suite of groundwater related research by UNSW Connected Waters Initiative, combining expertise across the Faculties of Engineering and Science. Wendy's appointment to the School of Mining Engineering will boost research collaboration within and beyond UNSW. The NCGRT centrifuge permeameter offers an innovative approach to test the hydraulic properties of low permeability sediments and rocks such as shales and claystone. The facility also includes a module for physical geotechnical modelling module and a fluid separation centrifuge. The 'environmental time machine' can help assess potential pressure and water quality changes that would normally take years and decades to develop. Since successful commissioning last year, the facility has logged over 2,300 hours testing drill core using standard permeability techniques. It has been discovered that the permeability of clayey sediment can change with stress conditions, potentially releasing saline porewater. These clayey units control seepage to aquifers that are critical for irrigation and community water supply. The centrifuge facility is currently testing the integrity of shale rock barriers for a site where dewatering may occur. Advanced instrumentation to operate at high gravity in the centrifuge is being developed for long term reactive contaminant experiments.

Contact w.timms@unsw.edu.au for PhD scholarship opportunities and information on the NCGRT centrifuge facility.

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