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Distribution of gases in the unsaturated zone at a low-level radioactive-waste disposal site near Sheffield, Illinois

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4025

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Abstract

The unsaturated zone is a medium that provides pneumatic communication for the movement of gases from wastes buried in landfills to the atmosphere, biota, and groundwater. Gases in unsaturated glacial and eolian deposits near a waste-disposal trench at the low-level radioactive-waste disposal site near Sheffield, Bureau County, Illinois, were identified, and the spatial and temporal distributions of the partial pressures of those gases were determined for the period January 1984 through January 1986. Methods for the collection and analyses of the gases are described, as are geologic and hydrologic characteristics of the unsaturated zone that affect gas transport. The identified gases, which are of natural and of waste origin, include nitrogen, oxygen, and argon, carbon dioxide, methane, propane, butane, tritiated water vapor, 14carbon dioxide, and 222 radon. Concentrations of methane and 14carbon dioxide originated at the waste, as shown by partial-pressure gradients of the gases; 14carbon dioxide partial pressures exceeded natural background partial pressures by factors greater than 1 million at some locations. Variations in partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide were seasonal among piezometers because of increased root and soil-microbe respiration during summer. Variations in methane and 14carbon dioxide partial pressures were apparently related to discrete releases from waste sources at unpredictable intervals of time. No greater than background partial pressures for tritiated water vapor or 222 radon were measured. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Distribution of gases in the unsaturated zone at a low-level radioactive-waste disposal site near Sheffield, Illinois
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
88-4025
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1988
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
vii, 69 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.