The former George Air Force Base (GAFB), now known as the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA), is located in the town of Adelanto, approximately 100 km northeast of Los Angeles, California (Fig. 1). In this report, we present acquisition parameters, data, and interpretations of seismic images that were acquired in the OU-1 area of GAFB during July 1999 (Fig. 2). GAFB is scheduled for conversion to civilian use, however, during its years as an Air Force base, trichlorethylene (TCE) was apparently introduced into the subsurface as a result of spills during normal aircraft maintenance operations. To comply with congressional directives, TCE contaminant removal has been ongoing since the early-tomid 1990s. However, only a small percentage of the TCE believed to have been introduced into the subsurface has been recovered, due largely to difficulty in locating the TCE within the subsurface.
Because TCE migrates within the subsurface by ground water movement, attempts to locate the TCE contaminants in the subsurface have employed an array of ground-water monitoring and extraction wells. These wells primarily sample within a shallow-depth (~40 m) aquifer system. Cores obtained from the monitoring and extraction wells indicate that the aquifer, which is composed of sand and gravel channels, is bounded by aquitards composed largely of clay and other fine-grained sediments. Based on well logs, the aquifer is about 3 to 5 m thick along the seismic profiles. A more thorough understanding of the lateral variations in the depth and thickness of the aquifer system may be a key to finding and removing the remaining TCE. However, due to its complex depositional and tectonic history, the structural and stratigraphic sequences are not easily characterized. An indication of the complex nature of the structure and stratigraphy is the appreciable variation in stratigraphic sequences observed in some monitoring wells that are only a few tens of meters apart.
To better characterize the shallow (upper 100 m) stratigraphy beneath GAFB, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) contracted the US Geological Survey (USGS) to acquire three seismic reflection/refraction profiles within an area known as Operational Unit #1 (OU-1). The principal objective of the seismic survey was to laterally characterize the subsurface with respect to structure and stratigraphy. In particular, we desired to (1) laterally “map” stratigraphic units (particularly aquifer layers) that were previously identified in monitoring wells within the OU-1 area and (2) identify structures, such as faults and folds, that affect the movement of ground water. Knowledge of lateral variations in stratigraphic units and structures that may affect those units is useful in constructing ground-water flow models, which aid in identifying possible TCE migration paths within the subsurface. Stratigraphic and structural characterization may also be useful in identifying surface locations and target depths for future wells (Catchings et al., 1996). Proper siting of wells is important because a welldefined aquifer is apparently not present in all locations at GAFB, as indicated by lithologic logs from existing wells (Montgomery Watson, 1995). Proper depth placement of monitoring and extraction wells is important because wells that are too shallow will not sample within the aquifer, and wells that are too deep risk puncturing the aquitard and allowing contaminants to flow to deeper levels.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Stratigraphic and structural characterization of the OU-1 area at the former George Air Force Base, Adelanto, Southern California