Samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds were collected from 315 wells in the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system in southwestern New Jersey and a small adjacent area in Pennsylvania during 1980-82. Volatile organic compounds were detected in all three aquifer units of the Potomac-Raritan-Magoth aquifer system in the study area. Most of the contamination appears to be confined to the outcrop area at present. Low levels of contamination, however, were found downdip of the outcrop area in the upper and middle aquifers. Trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and benzene were the most frequently detected compounds. Differences in the areal distributions of light chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as trichloroethylene, and aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene, were noted and are probably due to differences in the uses of the compounds and the distribution patterns of potential contamination sources. The distribution patterns of volatile organic compounds differed greatly among the three aquifer units. The upper aquifer, which crops out mostly in less-developed areas, had the lowest percentage of wells with volatile organic compounds detected (10 percent of wells sampled). The concentrations in most wells in the upper aquifer which had detectable levels were less than 10 ??g/l. In the middle aquifer, which crops out beneath much of the urban and industrial area adjacent to the Delaware River, detectable levels of volatile organic compounds were found in 22 percent of wells sampled, and several wells contained concentrations above 100 ??g/l. The lower aquifer, which is confined beneath much of the outcrop area of the aquifer system, had the highest percentage of wells (28 percent) with detectable levels. This is probably due to (1) vertical leakage of contamination from the middle aquifer, and (2) the high percentage of wells tapping the lower aquifer in the most heavily developed areas of the outcrop.
Additional publication details
Distribution of volatile organic compounds in a New Jersey coastal plain aquifer system