Geophysical Techniques to Locate DNAPLs: Profiles of Federally Funded Projects

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DNAPLs are separate-phase hydrocarbon liquids that are denser than water, such as chlorinated solvents (either as a single component or as mixtures of solvents), wood preservative wastes, coal tar wastes, and pesticides. They are present at numerous hazardous waste sites and are suspected to exist at many more. Due to the numerous variables influencing DNAPL transport and fate in the subsurface and, consequently, their ensuing complexity, DNAPLs largely go undetected, yet are likely to be a significant limiting factor in site remediation.

Most DNAPLs undergo only limited degradation in the subsurface, and persist for long periods while slowly releasing soluble organic constituents to ground water through dissolution. Subsurface DNAPL distribution is difficult to delineate accurately at some sites because DNAPLs migrate preferentially through selected pathways (e.g., fractures and sand layers) and are affected by small-scale changes in the stratigraphy of an aquifer. Therefore, the ultimate path taken by DNAPL can be very difficult to characterize and predict.

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