Ben Scandella

Benjamin Scandella

PhD Student

I am a fourth year PhD student student in Civil and Environmental Engineering. My research interests center on water and energy resources under climate change, and I believe we can gain great insight by developing mechanistic, numerical models that are validated against laboratory experiments and field work. I also enjoy teaching middle and high school students about these important topics with my labmates, Peter and Jane (see pictures).

The goal of my thesis work is understanding how methane escapes from lake sediments and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Methane bubbles escape from the sediment and float to the lake surface, where they may be trapped under ice (link to videos from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks) or vent to the atmosphere. Whatever determines how the bubbles come out, as a slow trickle or a violent burst, determines their contribution to the greenhouse effect. Modeling the movement of gas bubbles in deformable lake sediment incorporates both poromechanics theory and multiphase fluid flow through porous media.

This research also has application to ocean sediments bearing methane hydrates. The natural gas trapped inside ice-like hydrates may have important impacts on world energy resources and climate change, and in order to evaluate the associated opportunities and risks we need to know how the methane becomes trapped and where it goes when hydrates melt.



Massachusetts Institute of Technology · Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

77 Massachusetts Avenue, Building 48 · Cambridge, MA 02139