Tanvi Arora

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Tanvi Arora
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SEG Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution 2021

Tanvi Arora is an assistant professor at the Academy of Physical Sciences, AcSIR, and a scientist at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, India. Arora has provided innovative solutions using geophysical mapping techniques in two areas of great societal impact: water supply and mapping environmental aspects of waste and landfill sites using electrical resistivity tomography applications — an increasingly challenging issue for modern society. She is also successful in communicating results to policy makers to affect fundamental change in behaviors and policy. These applications of geoscience have improved the quality of life for large parts of the population in her native India.

Biography Citation for the Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution

by Manika Prasad And Harsh Gupta

We are honored to introduce Tanvi Arora as the recipient of the 2021 Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution. We applaud Tanvi’s dedication to map aquifers and their recharge as well as to track contaminated leachates from landfill sites — both increasing stressors for modern society. Tanvi provides innovative solutions using geophysical mapping techniques to chart environmental hazards posed by waste and landfill sites using electrical resistivity tomography (ERT).

Water scarcity affects many urban and rural regions. Thus, major efforts are needed to relieve stressed water resources to supply adequate water for life and for quality of life. A major part of Tanvi’s work lies in integrating hydrological and geophysical methods to understand the hydraulic complexities of the hard rock microwatershed in granitic terrain and to map aquifers in karst regions. For example, she was an integral part of the European project Saph-Pani in which she identified recharge structures over karst aquifers through hydrogeophysics. She also completed a project in the Republic of Niger, Africa, focused on positioning 250 borewells based on ERT surveys.

Coupled with water scarcity, modern society is struggling to safely manage increasing amounts of waste products. Landfill sites pose hazards beyond the mere cosmetic discomfort. Leachates from landfill sites can mingle with groundwater and make their way into rivers and aquifer recharge zones, and contaminants from waste leachates can potentially have long residence time. Responsible waste management requires tools to map, monitor, and mitigate these potential hazards. Tanvi has provided ground-breaking research to show how geophysical techniques can be used to nonintrusively map and characterize landfill leachates, and this has led to a new vision toward migration of contaminant plumes from landfills. Her research work on the Entressen landfill in France (Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 92, 274–292, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconhyd.2007.01.018) was one of the most cited articles in 2007–2008 (SciVerse Scopus). The Ministry of Earth Sciences recognized her expertise and invited her to work on the Ghazipur landfill in India. The contamination maps from this landfill will help a majority of residents of the Delhi-National Capital Region of India and help policy makers to plan their resources.

Recognizing that water preservation and reducing waste requires active community participation, Tanvi shares her research through classroom teaching and practical field trainings to various audiences at institutional and national levels. She teaches professionals, policy makers, lay citizens, and school children about groundwater science. Her experience is directly related to the Skill India initiatives of the country and has helped the groundwater scientific community bridge the gap between science and society. She led a campaign on World Water Day 2016 in sync with the slogan of “Lab to Land” and introduced a water portal to bridge the gap between the scientific community and society.

We have known Tanvi for more than a decade, since the time she was pursuing her thesis doctorate in groundwater geophysics. She completed her PhD on the complex and often neglected hydrology of vadose zones. Tanvi’s willingness to take risks, be innovative, and embrace change has successfully created a set of proactive and repetitive processes for continual improvement in the earth science community to serve society. Tanvi’s dedication in pursuit of using geophysics for water survey and to map leachates from garbage disposal sites align perfectly with the Craig J. Beasley Award. The award testifies to Tanvi’s perseverance in the Young Earth Scientists Network, her commitment to the profession, and her personal focus on continual societal improvement.