Abstract

To select and design effective remedial measures for dense, nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) source zones, better understanding of the architecture of these zones is needed. In this study, a suite of investigative techniques was applied to perform detailed vertical delineation of chlorinated-solvent source zones in sand aquifers at five contaminated industrial sites (two in Connecticut, and one each in Florida, New Hampshire, and Ontario). The DNAPL occurs in the middle of the aquifers at three of the sites and at or near the bottom at the other two. The DNAPL entered the subsurface at these sites decades ago, and therefore the DNAPL zones have aged due to groundwater dissolution. The suite of investigative techniques was used to perform profile sampling using direct-push methods, in which depth-discrete soil and groundwater samples were taken with extremely close vertical spacing. The sampling included methods to distinguish between free-product and residual DNAPL at two of the sites. At each location where DNAPL was found, the DNAPL occurred in one or a few thin layers, generally between 1 and 30 cm thick. These layers were positioned within distinct grain-size zones, or at contacts between sedimentological layers. In some cases, the DNAPL layers have no apparent textural association. For any particular sampling hole to have a high probability of finding such layers, continuous cores must be collected and sampling of these cores must be done at very close vertical spacing (5 cm or less). Free-product DNAPL occurrences in conventional wells at three of the sites indicated, misleadingly, much greater DNAPL layer thicknesses than actual, and in one case, the conventional well may have caused short-circuiting of DNAPL from the middle to the bottom of the aquifer. Although all of the DNAPL source zones are comprised of only sporadic, thin DNAPL layers representing little total mass, these source zones are the cause of high-concentration dissolved plumes down gradient.

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