Abstract

At Sussex, New Brunswick, dissolved perchloroethylene (PCE) as high as 28.0 mu g/liter, was detected within the upper aquifer and in concentrations to 1.6 mu g/liter within the lower aquifer that serves as the main source of municipal water supply. Predominantly formed as an esker ridge, the lower aquifer consists of well-sorted, glaciofluvial/ice-contact, sand and gravel layers mostly confined by underlying till and/or bedrock and an overlying unit of laminated silt-clay glaciolacustrine sediments (middle aquitard). The middle aquitard is in turn overlain by an upper aquifer of variable thickness, extending from a depth of about 18 m to near surface, consisting of coarsening-upward sand and gravel, with occasional lenses of clay, silt and diamicton. A dispersal plume was identified by contouring PCE concentrations from 72 samples from the upper aquifer; PCE was not detected in 16 surface soil samples. The highest concentrations imply that the PCE originated from a surface spill near the urban business center and that subsurface migration was influenced significantly by a buried relict river channel cut into the middle aquitard. Scouring along the channel bottom cut through the middle aquitard and intersected the esker ridge of the underlying water supply aquifer, forming windows through the aquitard. Contamination of the lower aquifer has likely originated from the PCE being drawn through these windows during pumping of a water-supply well that is now out of service. Results indicate that withdrawal rates and placement of original municipal water wells, as well as the stratigraphy, conductivity and topography of subsurface units are controlling factors in Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid migration at this site.

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