Results from a plume mapping study from November 2000 through February 2001 in the sand-and-gravel surficial aquifer at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, were used to assess the occurrence and extent of chlorinated solvent mass loss by calculating mass fluxes across two transverse cross sections and by observing changes in concentration ratios and mole fractions along a longitudinal cross section through the core of the plume. The plume mapping investigation was conducted to determine the spatial distribution of chlorinated solvents migrating from former waste disposal sites. Vertical contaminant concentration profiles were obtained with a direct-push drill rig and multilevel piezometers. These samples were supplemented with additional ground water samples collected with a minipiezometer from the bed of a perennial stream downgradient of the source areas. Results from the field program show that the plume, consisting mainly of tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-1,2-DCE), was approximately 670 m in length and 120 m in width, extended across much of the 9- to 18-m thickness of the surficial aquifer, and discharged to the stream in some areas. The analyses of the plume mapping data show that losses of the parent compounds, PCE and TCE, were negligible downgradient of the source. In contrast, losses of cis-1,2-DCE, a daughter compound, were observed in this plume. These losses very likely resulted from biodegradation, but the specific reaction mechanism could not be identified. This study demonstrates that plume mapping data can be used to estimate the occurrence and extent of chlorinated solvent mass loss from biodegradation and assess the effectiveness of natural attenuation as a remedial measure.
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Use of plume mapping data to estimate chlorinated solvent mass loss