For near-surface contaminant characterization, the accurate prediction of hydrogeological parameters in anisotropic and heterogeneous environments has been a challenge since the last decades. However, recent advances in near-surface geophysics have facilitated the use of geophysical data for hydrogeological characterization in the last few years. A pseudo 3-D high resolution P-wave shallow seismic reflection survey was performed at the P Reactor Area, Savannah River Site, South Carolina in order to delineate and predict migration pathways of a large contaminant plume including trichloroethylene. This contaminant plume originates from the northwest section of the reactor facility that is located within the Upper Atlantic Coastal Plain. The data were collected with 40 Hz geophones, an accelerated weight-drop as seismic source and 1 m receiver spacing with near- and far-offsets of 0.5 and 119.5 m, respectively. In such areas with near-surface contaminants, a detailed subsurface characterization of the vadose zone hydraulic parameters is very important. Indeed, an inexpensive method of deriving such parameters by the use of seismic reflection surveys is beneficial, and our approach uses the relationship between seismic velocity and hydrogeological parameters together with empirical observations relating porosity to permeability and hydraulic conductivity. Shear wave velocity (Vs) profiles were estimated from surface wave dispersion analysis of the seismic reflection data and were subsequently used to derive hydraulic parameters such as porosity, permeability, and hydraulic conductivity. Additional geophysical data including core samples, vertical seismic profiling, surface electrical resistivity tomography, natural gamma and electrical resistivity logs allowed for a robust assessment of the validity and geological significance of the estimated Vs and hydrogeological models. The results demonstrate the usefulness of this approach for the upper 15 m of shallow unconsolidated sediments even though the survey design parameters were not optimal for surface wave analysis due to the higher than desired frequency geophones.

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