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Characterization and Source History Modeling Using Low‐k Zone Profiles at Two Source Areas

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Like tree rings, high‐resolution soil sampling of low‐permeability (low‐k) zones can be used to evaluate the style of source history at contaminated sites (i.e., historical pattern of concentration and composition vs. time since releases occurred at the interface with the low‐k zone). This is valuable for the development of conceptual site model (CSM) and can serve as an important line of evidence supporting monitored natural attenuation (MNA) as a long‐term remedy. Source histories were successfully reconstructed at two sites at Naval Air Station Jacksonville using a simple one‐dimensional (1D) model. The plume arrival time and historical composition were reconstructed from the time initial releases that were suspected to occur decades earlier. At the first site (Building 106), the source reconstructions showed relatively constant source concentrations, but significant attenuation over time in the downgradient plume in the transmissive zone, suggesting MNA may not be an appropriate remedy if source control is a requirement, but attenuation processes are clearly helping to maintain plume stability and reduce risk. At the second site (Building 780), source concentrations in the transmissive zone showed an approximately a one order of magnitude over time, but apparently less attenuation in the downgradient plume. The source reconstruction method appeared to reflect site remediation efforts (excavation, soil vapor extraction) implemented in the 1990s. Finally, a detailed analysis using molecular biological tools, carbon isotopes, and by‐products suggests that most degradation activity is associated with high‐k zones but not with low‐k zones at these source areas. Overall, the source reconstruction methodology provided insight into historical concentration trends not obtainable otherwise given the limited long‐term monitoring data.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2015

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