The application of induced polarization techniques to detect metal-bearing offshore anthropogenic waste and unexploded ordnance

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Abstract

Raw sewage and industrial waste have been dumped into sensitive estuaries, bays, and sounds for centuries. The full extents of the resulting sludge deposits are largely unknown, because they move in response to tidal and long‐shore currents, and because they are often buried by younger inert sediments. USGS field and laboratory measurements of toxic mine waste and organic effluent samples suggest that anthropogenic wastes typically contain finely‐divided metal and metal‐sulfide particles. The anoxic environment provided by anthropogenic wastes promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria, creating a self‐reducing environment. We suggest that the finely‐divided metal and metal‐sulfide particles are the products of bacterial reduction and precipitation. The fine‐grained metallic precipitates are ideal targets for a surface‐effect electrochemical detection methodology called Induced Polarization (IP). A USGS‐patented (1998/2001) marine IP streamer technology has recently been commercialized and used to map “black smoker” sulfide deposits and their disseminated halos in the Bismarck Sea (2005), and titanium‐sand deposits offshore of South Africa (2007). The marine induced polarization system can do this mapping in three dimensions, more rapidly (it is towed at 3 knots), and with far higher resolution that land‐based measurements or vibracoring. Laboratory‐scale studies at the USGS suggest that anthropogenic wastes may display a specific multi‐frequency IP spectral signature that may be applicable to waste‐deposit mapping.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title The application of induced polarization techniques to detect metal-bearing offshore anthropogenic waste and unexploded ordnance
DOI 10.4133/1.3176681
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 10 p.
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems 2009
First page 1104
Last page 1113
Conference Title Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems 2009
Conference Location Fort Worth, Texas
Conference Date March 29 - April 2 2009
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N