Discrete-depth sampling of inorganic groundwater chemistry is essential for a variety of site characterization activities. Although the mobility and rapid sampling capabilities of direct-push techniques have led to their widespread use for evaluating the distribution of organic contaminants, complementary methods for the characterization of spatial variations in geochemical conditions have not been developed. In this study, a direct-push-based approach for high-resolution inorganic chemical profiling was developed at a site where sharp chemical contrasts and iron-reducing conditions had previously been observed. Existing multilevel samplers (MLSs) that span a fining-upward alluvial sequence were used for comparison with the direct-push profiling. Chemical profiles obtained with a conventional direct-push exposed-screen sampler differed from those obtained with an adjacent MLS because of sampler reactivity and mixing with water from previous sampling levels. The sampler was modified by replacing steel sampling components with stainless-steel and heat-treated parts, and adding an adapter that prevents mixing. Profiles obtained with the modified approach were in excellent agreement with those obtained from an adjacent MLS for all constituents and parameters monitored (Cl, NO3, Fe, Mn, DO, ORP, specific conductance and pH). Interpretations of site redox conditions based on field-measured parameters were supported by laboratory analysis of dissolved Fe. The discrete-depth capability of this approach allows inorganic chemical variations to be described at a level of detail that has rarely been possible. When combined with the mobility afforded by direct-push rigs and on-site methods of chemical analysis, the new approach is well suited for a variety of interactive site-characterization endeavors. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Direct-push geochemical profiling for assessment of inorganic chemical heterogeneity in aquifers