In vivo soil engineering: utilizing natural biogeochemical s | 94053
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In vivo soil engineering: utilizing natural biogeochemical systems to create multi-purpose, long-lasting engineering solutions


Richard Adrian*

These issues of the twenty-first century—global warming, carbon sequestration, rehabilitating infrastructure, cleaning up brownfields, disposing of hazardous waste, protecting water resources, and protecting against carbon sequestration—cannot be addressed by merely tweaking or optimizing these processes. A more extremist, comprehensive methodology is expected to foster the reasonable arrangements society needs. The majority of the problems listed above are caused, supported, enabled, or grown by soil. Contrary to conventional civil engineering thinking, soil is a living system that supports multiple concurrent processes. This paper proposes that "soil engineering in vivo," in which the natural capacity of soil as a living ecosystem is used to provide multiple solutions simultaneously, may provide novel, creative, and long-term solutions to some of the major issues facing the 21st century. To provide multifunctional civil and environmental engineering designs for the soil environment, this necessitates a multidisciplinary perspective that incorporates the sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics. For instance, is it possible for native soil bacterial species to moderate the carbonate cycle in soils in such a way that they can simultaneously solidify liquefiable soil, immobilize reactive heavy metals, and sequester carbon—thereby effectively providing civil engineering functionality while also clarifying the ground water and removing carbon from the atmosphere? In recent years, serious exploration of these concepts has been initiated.

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