What is a Plume? and Why do I Care?

- By: ,

Courtesy of Arcadis

From The National Groundwater Association


Most of you might question why I want to spend time discussing a subject that is outside of the more traditional subjects that would be reviewed in this column. After all, plumes are usually considered part of the hydrogeologist’s world. What is an engineer going to be able to bring to this discussion? Of course, the rest of you want to know why I care. Thus the title.


The basic answer to both questions is communications. The plume, or plume map, is the most widely used method to summarize site investigation data for ground water into a comprehensive picture of what is occurring at a site. Plume maps are drawn for aquifers as a whole, for individual constituents, or for groups of constituents with common characteristics. This makes the plume map the source of the data that we develop our ground water remedial strategies around and base our remediation design upon.

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