The Savage Municipal Well Superfund site in the Town of Milford, New Hampshire, was underlain by a 0.5-square mile plume (as mapped in 1994) of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), most of which consisted of tetrachloroethylene (PCE). The plume occurs mostly within highly transmissive stratified-drift deposits but also extends into underlying till and bedrock. The plume has been divided into two areas called Operable Unit 1 (OU1), which contains the primary source area, and Operable Unit 2 (OU2), which is defined as the extended plume area outside of OU1. The OU1 remedial system includes a low-permeability barrier wall that encircles the highest detected concentrations of PCE and a series of injection and extraction wells to contain and remove contaminants. The barrier wall likely penetrates the full thickness of the sand and gravel; in many places, it also penetrates the full thickness of the underlying basal till and sits atop bedrock.
From 1998 to 2004, PCE concentrations decreased by an average of 80 percent at most wells outside the barrier wall. However, inside the barrier, PCE concentrations greater than 10,000 micrograms per liter (ug/L) still exist (2008). The remediation of these areas of recalcitrant PCE presents challenges to successful remediation.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Region 1, is studying the solute transport of VOCs (primarily PCE) in contaminated groundwater in the unconsolidated sediments (overburden) of the Savage site and specifically assisting in the evaluation of the effectiveness of remedial operations in the OU1 area. As part of this effort, the USGS analyzed the subsurface stratigraphy to help understand hydrostratigraphic controls on remediation.
A combination of lithologic, borehole natural gamma-ray and electromagnetic (EM) induction logging, and test drilling has identified 11 primary hydrostratigraphic units in OU1. These 11 units consist of several well-sorted sandy layers with some gravel that are separated by poorly sorted cobble layers with a fine-grained matrix. Collectively these units represent glacial sediments deposited by localized ice-margin fluctuations. For the most part, the units are semi-planar, particularly the cobble units, and truncated by an undulating bedrock surface. The lowermost unit is a basal till that ranges in thickness from zero to greater than 10 feet and mantles the bedrock surface.
The 11 units have different lithologic and hydraulic characteristics. The hydraulic conductivity of the well-sorted sand and gravel units is typically greater than the conductivity of the poorly sorted cobble units and the basal till. The hydraulic conductivity ranges from 5 to greater than 500 feet per day. Lateral and vertical variation in lithology and hydraulic conductivity are inferred by variations in borehole natural gamma-ray counts and estimates of hydraulic conductivity.
The comparison of hydrostratigraphic units with the spatial distribution of PCE concentrations suggests that solute transport away from source areas is primarily lateral within the permeable sandy units in the middle to lower parts of the aquifer. Along the centerline of the interior barrier area, highest PCE concentrations are in the sandy units to the east of suspected source areas.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrostratigraphic Mapping of the Milford-Souhegan Glacial Drift Aquifer, and Effects of Hydrostratigraphy on Transport of PCE, Operable Unit 1, Savage Superfund Site, Milford, New Hampshire
U.S. Geological Survey
New Hampshire-Vermont Water Science Center
x, 34 p.; 3 Plates; Plate 1a: 18 x 12 inches, Plate 1b: 18 x 12 inches, Plate 2: 17.96 x 12 inches