Abstract

An electrical-resistivity survey was completed at the T tank farm at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington State, U.S.A. The purpose of the survey was to define the lateral extent of waste plumes in the vadose zone in and around the tank farm. The T tank farm consists of single-shell tanks that historically have leaked and many liquid-waste-disposal facilities that provide a good target for resistivity mapping. Given that the site is highly industrialized with near-surface metallic infrastructure that potentially could mask any interpretable waste plume, it was necessary to use the many wells around the site as long electrodes. To accommodate the long electrodes and to simulate the effects of a linear conductor, the resistivity inversion code was modified to assign low-resistivity values to the well's location. The forward model within the resistivity code was benchmarked for accuracy against an analytic solution, and the inverse model was tested for its ability to recreate images of a hypothetical target. The results of the tank-farm field survey showed large, low-resistivity targets beneath the disposal areas that coincided with the conceptual hydrogeologic models developed regarding the releases. Additionally, in areas of minimal infrastructure, the long-electrode method matched the lateral footprint of a 3D surface-resistivity survey with reasonable fidelity. Based on these results, the long-electrode resistivity method may provide a new strategy for environmental characterization at highly industrialized sites, provided a sufficient number and density of wells exist.

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