The Practical Application of Surface Electrical Resistivity to Detection of Ground‐Water Pollution

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One of the primary problems in field investigations of ground‐water pollution is locating the contaminant plume. Drilling of sampling holes on a hit‐or‐miss basis is both time‐consuming and expensive. Under many subsurface conditions, surface electrical resistivity profiling can quickly and cheaply locate the general position of the plume and identify areas most feasible for sampling and monitoring. Many contaminants contain an ionic concentration considerably higher than the background level of native ground water. When such a contaminant is introduced into an aquifer, the electrical resistivity of the saturated soil is reduced. Surface electrical resistivity profiling across a suspected area can identify this reduced resistivity zone as an anomaly. The sensitivity of the method depends on relative uniformity of geology and topography as well as minimal extraneous electrical interferences. It is also essential that the “A” spacing used in the profiling procedure be carefully selected. If the resistivity contrast between contaminated and uncontaminated ground water is high, detection of at least the central part of the plume is likely within expected geologic variation. The method has been successfully used in the location of plumes from contaminants including brine, uranium reprocessing liquid wastes and landfill leachate in glacial deposits of New England. Copyright © 1983, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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