Explosive compounds, such as RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) and HMX (octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine), and the propellant compound perchlorate are present in ground water near Snake Pond, a ground-water flow-through glacial kettle pond in the glacial sand and gravel aquifer on western Cape Cod near Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation. The contaminants originate from the J-3 Range ordnance training and testing area. Ground-water samples were collected at 10 sites near the pond to determine the paths of the contaminants as they underflow or completely or partially discharge into the pond. Water-quality profiles were developed for sites on opposite ends of a 200-foot-long intermittent island near the northern, upgradient end of the pond by collecting water samples from two temporary drive-point borings. RDX was detected at both locations between 60 and 90 feet below the pond level. The highest RDX concentration was 0.99 micrograms per liter. Perchlorate was detected at only one location on the island, between 95 and 100 feet below the pond level at a concentration of 0.61 micrograms per liter. Profiles of oxygen and hydrogen stable isotopes were developed for seven sites spaced 300 to 600 feet apart along the southern, downgradient shore of the pond. A transition from heavier to lighter oxygen and hydrogen isotopes was observed at an altitude of about -50 feet. This transition most likely is the boundary between evaporation-affected pond water that is seeping into the aquifer and ground water that has passed beneath the pond. RDX was not detected in the ground-water samples collected south of the pond. Perchlorate was detected only in one sample from a shallow depth in one boring. The results of these analyses indicate that the J-3 Range plume contains low concentrations of RDX and perchlorate (less than 1 microgram per liter) as it passes beneath the northern end of Snake Pond. Results of ground-water-flow modeling indicate that ground water containing these low levels of RDX and perchlorate discharges into the pond south of the island. If the contaminated ground water should travel as far as the southern shore of the pond, it would be overlain near the shore by a zone of pond water seeping into the aquifer that is about 100 feet thick.
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USGS Numbered Series
Distribution and Migration of Ordnance-Related Compounds and Oxygen and Hydrogen Stable Isotopes in Ground Water near Snake Pond, Sandwich, Massachusetts