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Valery A. Mironenko

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Valery Mironenko was one of the founders of modern hydrogeology in Russia and renowned scientist in the field of quantitative methods in hydrogeology worldwide.

He was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935. His life was very complex reflecting political climate of Stalin's era dictatorship in the Soviet Union. His father was the President of Leningrad State University and his mother was Associate Professor at the same University. In 1949 his father, who was at that time promoted to the post of the Minister of Education of Russia, was arrested by order of the Ministry for State Security and was shot in 1950 (so called "Leningradian Case"). His mother as an undesired person was sent to exile to Krasnoyarsky Krai (province) in Siberia.

Valery, who attended the school for talented children, was arrested in 1952 under the slogan "son of enemy of Russian people" and after 4-month of imprisonment was sent to exile to settlement in Krasnoyarsky Krai (for 5 years). In 1953 after Stalin's death he was granted an amnesty, and in 1954 Valery was exonerated in connection with posthumous rehabilitation of his father.

In 1953 Valery entered Leningrad Mining Institute majoring in hydrogeology and engineering geology, and in 1955 he began his studies at Leningrad State University majoring in mathematics/mechanics. Thus, Valery graduated from two prestigious and oldest educational schools in Russia.

After graduation from Leningrad Mining Institute in 1958 he started to work at the Research Institution of Rock Mechanics and Mine-Surveying (VNIMI) as an engineer. He was very quickly promoted to senior level positions and eventually become head of laboratory. Here, one of his first and most interesting theoretical works was connected with development of analytical models for calculation of systems of horizontal wells. Here Valery developed new quantitative methods of ground-water analysis for mining industry. He proposed new ideas and solutions for dewatering open pits and underground mines and initiated the study on hydrogeomechanical processes with the emphasis on the stability and filtration deformation of open pits slopes, land subsidence under deep dewatering. In this area of interest he obtained first a Ph.D. in 1963 and then Sc.D. in 1967. Two monographs "Hydrogeological investigations for mining enterprises" (a group of VNIMI's authors), 1976, and "Principles of Hydrogeomechanics" (co-author V. M. Shestakov) are major contribution in this area of his interest.

At the same time he developed an interest in hydrogeological tests. He proposed original theoretical solutions in this area culminated in the publication "Theory and methods of interpretation of pumping tests and groundwater monitoring data" (co-author V. M. Shestakov). This unique monograph combines domestic and foreign experience in theory and application of methods to estimate hydrogeological parameters. This work clearly demonstrates the need to use actual data of historical and long term data of long term pumping or water supply (efficiency so called "trial and operation approach"). This work and other above-mentioned publications become practical handbooks for many hydrogeologists in Russia and elsewhere.

Valery Mironenko was Professor in the Department of Hydrogeology at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) Mining Institute (LGI) from 1972 till 1997. Since 1970-th, being still young scientist, he was able to provide scientific based solutions to practical problems. Already at that time he did have a vision of development of science in the future. He was one of the firsts to investigate the problem of ground-water conservation, protection and wise use. At that time there was very few people who recognized that protection of natural resources would be the priority of national policy.

As a result of this vision and previously gained experience the Department of Hydrogeology at LGI become the leading scientific center to provide practical scientific and engineering solutions to monitor and protect ground-water resources. In the next decade V. Mironenko (with his colleagues and graduates) is writing several publications reflecting this new direction. Examples of such publications are "Groundwater protection in mining regions", 1980, "Tracer tests in aquifers and ground water monitoring", 1986, "Study of groundwater contamination", 1988. Eventually, all these works and new directions were summarized in three volume monograph titled "Problems of environmental hydrogeology", 1998-1999. All above-mentioned work has visionary character.

In addition to his prolific writing, V. Mironenko was a leader and an innovator to initiate new scientific ideas. He developed a new vision and concepts of protection and control of pollution in subsurface environment and scientific foundation for effective monitoring. For the first time in world practice, he suggested a complex of field methods, based on rigorous theoretical foundation, which can provide information for subsurface transport forecasting. At the same time, he initiated the development of principals and methods for mathematical modeling with utilization of computers. This direction helped practicing
hydrogeologists to have a tool to study practical problems of engineering nature and methods of engineering and commercial evaluation for development of groundwater resources. In this area he wrote two books: "Numerical modeling in hydrogeology", 1988 and " Solutions of problems in groundwater protection with the use of numerical modeling", 1992.

Wide range of interests of Valery is difficult to comprehend. He was able to contribute to almost all branches in hydrogeology. Just a list of his main works is a testimony of his incredible industrious capacity. He is author or co-author of 19 books and 3 text books in addition of hundreds of articles and papers. In 1990 V. Mironenko was elected to prestigious corresponding member of USSR Academy of Sciences (now Russian Academy of Sciences). It is worth to mention that he is among only very few hydrogeologists elected to this position. He was also a member of Russian Academy of Mining Sciences.

In 1997 V. Mironenko organized a new cross-departmental center of hydrogeoecology and St. Petersburg Division of the Institute of Environmental Geology of Russian Academy of Sciences housed at St. Petersburg State University. This center of highly qualified specialists headed by V. Mironenko continues to provide scientific solutions to many practical problems in the areas of groundwater. In addition to his scientific and leadership capacity, he was a leading domestic and foreign expert, where his phenomenal intuition and deep fundamental knowledge allowed suggesting correct solutions in very complex and difficult situations.

Professor V. Mironenko was outstanding teacher and advisor to students at St.Petersburg Mining Institute and St.Petersburg StateUniversity and at a special program for continuous education. As an aid to students he published such text books "Groundwater hydraulics", 1983 and 1996, and "Mining hydrogeology", 1989. He was an advisor to 35 Ph.D. and 5 Sc.D. He was a laureate of competition called "Soros Professor".

V. Mironenko, as an outstanding scientist and visionary leader, is well known in Russia, United States, Europe and throughout the world. He was the first hydrogeologist who visited USA in 1988 and established cooperation between Russian and American hydrologists. He was the first member of American Institute of Hydrology and initiator in 1990 of USA/USSR (USA/CIS since 1993) Joint Conferences on Environmental Hydrology and Hydrogeology. He was a member of International Association of Hydrogeologists, an expert of UN and of International Institute of Applied System Analysis. He was one of the first fellows of the Russian-American Center for Contaminant Transport Studies at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California. During last 10 years he was frequently invited to USA and Canada by Universities, private companies and National Laboratories to give lectures on scientific and technical issues.

V. Mironenko was a member of editorial board of "Environmental Geology" and " Water
Resources" of Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as international journals " Advances
in Water Resources" and "Hydrogeology Journal".

The last homage to his achievement to science was Special Recognition of the Government of Russian Federation.

Valery was also interested in life outside of his work. His intellect and fundamental knowledge of art and literature, his sense of humor and love for life manifested in every day of his activity. His dedication to physical fitness ethics is well known. Rain, snow or shine he was running every day at any places. He was an avid mountain climber and hiker.

His colleagues, students, friends will always remember Valery Mironenko. He will stay in our hearts and thoughts.


Санкт-Петербургское отделение Института геоэкологии РАН
+7(812) 324-12-56, annik@hgepro.ru