Soil and Water Quality

The people of Arequipa face many challenges to their sustainable use of soil and water resources; contamination from past and current mineral resource extraction activities, inadequate management under recent agricultural intensification, highland desertification due to overgrazing, exposure of toxic mineral deposits due to glacial retreat, diminishing glacial ice due to climate warming, and shifting precipitation patterns.

The Center for Soil and Water Quality (CSWQ) will focus on characterization, monitoring, and visualization of the Arequipa Region’s vital soil and water resources. Science-based decision making related to sustainable natural resource use, agricultural productivity, and human health requires accurate, spatially and temporally resolved measurements of soil and water quality, availability, and vulnerability. The CSWQ will address these challenges through a variety of research, education, and outreach activities located within UNSA and field sites throughout the Arequipa Region.

The CSQW will house key laboratories for soil and water processing and analysis and serve as a regional, national and overall Latin American resource for technical and scientific excellence in soil, water, and natural resource characterization. The Center will install and maintain riverine and ground water monitoring stations at locations critical to ground and surface water source, extraction, and impairment. Field observatories also will be maintained, in collaboration with the Arequipa Nexus Institute Center for Agriculture Innovation and Demonstration, at key regions of agronomic importance representative of the major land use, climate, soil type, and geographic areas.

To facilitate the utilization of spatially-resolved soil data decision making by stakeholder communities (i.e. policy makers, practitioners, and researchers), CSWQ will create a research and education program in visualization and data analysis with platforms such as the on-line and web-based Soil Explorer mapping platform developed at Purdue ( that are usable by common handheld devices such as smart phone-based devices.

To ensure the widest impact of CSWQ activities, the Center will work closely with regional and national organizations such as Peru’s National Water Authority (ANA), Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), Peru’s Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), the Arequipa Regional Environmental Authority (ARMA).

We envision CSWQ as the hub where multidisciplinary teams of experts from UNSA, Purdue University, and other national and international institutions apply cutting-edge tools in soil and sediment geochemistry, soil health, data visualization, ground sensors, and remote sensing and work collaboratively to achieve a detailed understanding of the state and vulnerability of the Arequipa Region’s soil and water.

The CSWQ will work synergistically with the other centers of the Arequipa Nexus Institute and provide them data and information critical to their development models and decision support tools.

CSWQ technical and programmatic infrastructure will support:

  • Field and laboratory experimentation on soil health, vulnerability, and contaminant impairment
  • Cutting edge research facilities for soil and aquatic microbiology and geochemistry
  • Cutting edge research facilities for analysis of environmental contaminants
  • High spatial resolution mapping and visualization of soil properties


Tim Filley

Timothy Filley
Professor, Purdue University
Nexus Institute Director
Director, C4E
Phone: +1 765 49-46581

Gustavo Polanco

Henry Gustavo Polanco Cornejo
Dean, School of Process Engineering, UNSA
Nexus Institute Co-Director

Purdue University