Abstract

Fracturing or erosion of landfill cover materials may lead to escape of landfill gases and creation of leachate through infiltration of surface water. Periodic geophysical surveys could be used to assess landfill covers noninvasively and identify fractured or thinned areas. Models derived from electrical resistivity and seismic refraction measurements were evaluated over various portions of a closed municipal landfill in west surburban Chicago. Resistivity soundings could not delineate cover thickness over areas of fractured or new cover where resistivity contrasts with the underlying refuse were minor. Cover thickness estimates accurate to within 0.7 m, however, were obtained over unfractured mature cover where resistivities were 10-20 ohm-m higher than in the refuse. Azimuthal resistivity variations as large as 16 ohm-m indicate opening of cover fractures during dry weather; these same areas showed little or no azimuthal resistivity variation under moist conditions. Strong absorption of seismic energy and a velocity inversion in the refuse prevented calculation of cover thickness from seismic refraction profiles using a sledgehammer source. However, higher direct P-wave velocities (740 m/s) characterized areas of intact cover and lower velocities (370 m/s) characterized highly fractured cover. Qp for cover materials ranged from 3 to 9 and did not differ between fractured and unfractured areas.

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