Dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLS) are important pollutants because of their widespread use as chemical and industrial solvents. An example of the pollution caused by the discharge of DNAPLs is found at the Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, where trichloroethylene (TCE) has been discharged directly into the unsaturated zone. This discharge has resulted in the formation of a plume of TCE-contaminated water in the aquifer downgradient of the discharge. A zone of dark-colored groundwater containing a high dissolved organic C content has been found near the point of discharge of the TCE. The colored-water plume extends from the point of discharge at least 30 m (100 feet) downgradient. Fulvic acids isolated from the colored-waters plume, from water from a background well that has not been affected by the discharge of chlorinated solvents, and from soil pore water collected in a lysimeter installed at an uncontaminated site upgradient of the study area have been compared. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectra of the fulvic acids from the colored waters and from the lysimeter are very similar, but are markedly different from the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrum of the fulvic acid from the background well. The three-dimensional fluorescence spectrum and the DOC fractionation profile of the colored groundwater and the soil pore water are very similar to each other, but quite different from those of the background water. It is proposed from these observations that this colored water is soil pore water that has been displaced by a separate DNAPL liquid phase downward to the saturated zone.
Additional publication details
Displacement of soil pore water by trichloroethylene