2005: Middletown Landfill

In the fall of 2005, the Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory class (E&ES 281), at the request of the Jonah Center, conducted a preliminary study of methane production at the city landfill. Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas with about 20 times the heat trapping capability of CO2.  It lasts for about ten years in the atmosphere and decays to CO2. So there are both environmental and economic reasons to explore methane capture.

Students presented their findings at a public meeting at First Church of Christ Congregational on Dec. 20, with about sixty people in attendance. The study and landfill modeling yielded an estimate that 209 cubic feet of methane is released from the landfill per minute.

The Jonah Center sent the data from the Wesleyan study to the U.S. EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program, which analyzed the results to determine whether it was economically feasible to capture and use the gas.  Assuming methane emissions of 150 cubic feet per minute (a reasonable estimate), flaring the gas to destroy the methane would reduce annual greenhouse gas emission equivalent to removing 2900 cars from the road.  Utilizing this same methane to fuel a 350 KW generator would be equivalent to reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions from an additional 2800 passenger vehicles or powering 280 homes for one year.  (Source, U.S. EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program).

Endurant Energy LLC (Oak Terrace, IL) is the “developer;” Environmental Credit Corporation (State College, PA) will market the greenhouse gas reduction credits; William Charles Waste Companies (Rockford, IL) will determine the best location for the wells. Highland Power (Brockton, MA) will arrange for the local test well drilling. This initial phase of the project will determine the amount and quality of the gas emerging from the landfill. If there is sufficient gas, a 350 kW electricity generator will be installed to supply power to the grid.

Read more about the project in the Middletown Press:

“Students: Dump is potential field of new opportunity” (12/21/05)

Read more news about the Landfill Gas Project at the Jonah Center

News on Jonah Center Projects

2007: Lake Beseck

Lake Beseck is a body of water in Middlefield, CT. It was formed in 1846 when a local stream was dammed. Now, about a mile long and quarter of a mile wide, it has become a popular location for fishing and vacationing. Houses line its edges and it is owned by the state Department of Environmental Protection.  In 2007 the Environmental Geochemistry Laboratory class (E&ES 280/281) analyzed the water and took sediment cores to investigate the lake’s environmental history.

Read more about the project and see more photos in the Campus Newsletter:

“Class Uses Local Lake as Laboratory” (6/4/07)

Read an abstract of Dr. Ku’s continued investigation of Lake Beseck:

“The Geochemical Record of Cultural Eutrophication in Sediments of Beseck Lake and Lake Waramaug, Connecticut: Implications for Nutrient Cycling and Remediation Efforts”


2009: Jobs Pond

Jobs Pond was studied during spring 2009 by students in Environmental Geochemistry (E&ES 280).  It was chosen because of unusual water level behavior and to provide background information to the Middletown YMCA. The YMCA Camp, Camp Ingersol, uses Jobs Pond for swimming.

Reports, presentations and maps are available  from Wesfiles and may be accessed below:




2011: Eightmile River Watershed

The Eightmile River Watershed is a relatively undeveloped region in south central, Connecticut with over 150 miles of rivers and streams. It is part of the Connecticut River watershed, entering the river through Hamburg Cove.  As part of the study to be recognized as a national “Wild and Scenic Designation,” a completed management study was prepared by students in Environmental Geochemistry to help to ensure that the ecosystem is protected.

E&ES 280: Environmental Geochemistry

Geochemistry is taught every other year. It consists of a three hour lecture course (E&ES 280) and a three hour lab (E&ES 281).  Since 2005 the lab has been taught as a service-learning course.  Each year students in the lab study the geochemistry of a particular environment and at the end of the semester present their findings in a public form.  Reports and presentations from those studies are available here.



Click here to see list of projects completed in this course

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