Application of the Vapor-phase Multi-stage CMD Test to Characterize Contaminant Mass Discharge Associated with Volatile Organic Contaminant Sources in the Vadose Zone

Friday, 19 December 2014
Mark L Brusseau1, Jon Mainhagu2, Candice N Morrison1 and Kenneth C Carroll3, (1)University of Arizona, Soil, Water and Environmental Science Department, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tucson, AZ, United States, (2)contaminant transport group, Tucson, AZ, United States, (3)New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, United States
Vapor-phase multi-stage contaminant mass discharge (CMD) tests were conducted at two field sites to measure mass discharge associated with contaminant sources located in the vadose zone. A CMD of 32 g/d was obtained for a site at which soil vapor extraction (SVE) has been in operation for approximately 6 years. The behavior exhibited for the vapor extractions conducted at this site suggests that there is unlikely to be a significant mass of non-vapor-phase contaminant (e.g., DNAPL, sorbed phase) present in the advective domains, and that most remaining mass is likely located in poorly accessible domains. Given the conditions for this site, this remaining mass is hypothesized to be associated with the low-permeability (and higher water saturation) region in the vicinity of the saturated zone and capillary fringe. This is supported by the results of a sediment-coring effort conducted prior to the CMD test. A CMD of 270 g/d was obtained for a site for which there were no prior SVE operations. The behavior exhibited for the vapor extractions conducted at this site suggest that non-vapor-phase contaminant mass (e.g., DNAPL) may be present in the advective domains. This is consistent with the results of prior characterization activities conducted at the site. Hence, the asymptotic conditions observed for this site most likely derive from a combination of rate-limited mass transfer from DNAPL (and sorbed) phases present in the advective domain as well as mass residing in lower-permeability (“non-advective”) regions. The CMD values obtained from the tests were used in conjunction with a recently developed vapor-discharge tool to evaluate the impact of the measured CMDs on groundwater quality.