In 1976 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began studies of unsaturated zone hydrology next to the Nation’s first commercial disposal facility for low-level radioactive waste (LLRW) near Beatty, NV. Recognizing the need for long-term data collection, the USGS in 1983 established research management areas in the vicinity of the waste-burial facility through agreements with the Bureau of Land Management and the State of Nevada. Within this framework, the Amargosa Desert Research Site (ADRS; http://nevada.usgs.gov/adrs/) is serving as a field laboratory for the sustained study of water-, gas-, and contaminant-transport processes, and the development of models and methods to characterize flow and transport. The research is built on multiple lines of data that include: micrometeorology; evapotranspiration; plant metrics; soil and sediment properties; unsaturated-zone moisture, temperature, and gas composition; geology and geophysics; and groundwater. Contaminant data include tritium, radiocarbon, volatile-organic compounds (VOCs), and elemental mercury. Presented here is a summary of monitoring tools and techniques that are being applied in studies of waste isolation and contaminant migration.