Groundwater Assessment for Petroleum Hydrocarbon Compounds Associated with Fuels Area C, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, 2014–18
- Document: Report (6.19 MB pdf)
- Table 2.1 (42.5 kB xlsx) — Appendix table 2.1 Water-quality results for groundwater samples collected from 14 monitoring wells in the study area around Fuels Area C, 2014–18
- Table 2.1 (28.0 kB csv) — Appendix table 2.1 Water-quality results for groundwater samples collected from 14 monitoring wells in the study area around Fuels Area C, 2014–18
- Dataset: U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System database — USGS water data for the Nation
- Data Release: USGS data release — Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and Horizontal-to-Vertical Spectral Ratio (HVSR) data collected within and near Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, from 2014 to 2019
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In 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey began a study in cooperation with the Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Air Force to estimate groundwater-flow direction, install groundwater monitoring wells, and collect soil and groundwater samples for petroleum hydrocarbon compounds to identify the presence of hydrocarbon contamination at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, specifically around Fuels Area C. Several fuel spills of diesel fuel, jet fuel, and other petroleum products were documented on or near Fuels Area C and several studies have been done to determine the extent of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in the subsurface.
Two-dimensional electrical resistivity tomography surveys were completed at Fuels Area C in 2014 to characterize subsurface materials and determine the depth to bedrock along survey lines. The depth to the top of the Pierre Shale from land surface along the four electrical resistivity tomography survey lines in Fuels area C ranged from about 5.4 to 8.7 meters. Resistivity lines and lithologic logs in wells in the area indicated mostly clay material with minor occurrences of sand and gravel.
Discrete groundwater levels were collected between November 2014 and June 2018 at 14 monitoring wells for use in generating a potentiometric surface in the study area around Fuels Area C. The potentiometric contours indicated that groundwater flow was from the west to east or southwest to southeast around Fuels Area C.
Soil and groundwater samples were collected at selected locations from 2014 to 2018 to better understand the presence and movement of petroleum hydrocarbons in the study area around Fuels Area C. Soil samples were collected at eight wells during installation in 2014 and three wells during installation in 2016. Groundwater samples were collected from 14 wells and a recovery sump around Fuels Area C from 2014 to 2018.
Several petroleum hydrocarbon compounds were detected, but below action levels, in soil samples collected in 2014 and 2016. Benzene and toluene were not detected in any of the soil samples from the 11 monitoring well sites. Ethylbenzene and total xylenes were detected at sites 1 and 7. Naphthalene was detected in samples from five sites (sites 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9), but concentrations were less than the Tier 1 action level of 25 milligrams per kilogram.
Gasoline-range organic compounds were detected in all soil samples collected during the installation of 11 groundwater monitoring wells within or near Fuels Area C in 2014 and 2016. Diesel-range organic compounds were detected in 9 out of the 11 soil samples collected at the 11 monitoring wells. Gasoline-range organic compound concentrations exceeded the Tier 2 assessment level for total petroleum hydrocarbons in soil samples from site 1 (5,200 milligrams per kilogram), site 5 (580 milligrams per kilogram), and site 9 (1,800 milligrams per kilogram); the remaining sites had concentrations below the Tier 2 assessment level for total petroleum hydrocarbons. The highest concentrations of diesel-range organic compounds in soil samples were from site 1 (3,600 milligrams per kilogram), site 5 (440 milligrams per kilogram), and site 14 (330 milligrams per kilogram), and only the sample from site 1 exceeded the Tier 2 assessment level for total petroleum hydrocarbons.
Petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations were measured in samples collected from 14 groundwater monitoring wells and 1 recovery sump between 2014 and 2018 in the study area around Fuels Area C. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) compounds were detected in at least one sample collected from 10 of the 15 sites sampled in the study area from 2014 to 2018. Samples from monitoring well sites 2, 3, 6, 8, and 9 did not have any quantifiable concentrations of BTEX compounds. Multiple BTEX compounds were detected consistently in samples collected from sites 10 and 11. Few BTEX compounds were detected at sites outside of and downgradient from Fuels Area C (sites 12–14). Naphthalene was detected in 8 of the 15 sites sampled in the study area in 2014–18. Measurable concentrations of naphthalene generally were less than 5 micrograms per liter in wells sampled in the study area in 2014–18 except for samples collected at sites 5, 7, and 11.
The variability of the presence of BTEX compounds and naphthalene in wells sampled in the study area during 2014–18 likely is caused by the variability in the subsurface material, local groundwater flow, operational fueling activities, and historical spills and releases in the area. The spatial and temporal variability in the BTEX compounds and naphthalene concentrations from samples collected from 2014 to 2018 do not indicate a consistent pattern of subsurface flow or contaminate movement that would be expected if a contaminant plume migrated with the flow and movement of groundwater.
Gasoline-range organic and diesel-range organic compounds were detected in most of the groundwater samples collected in the study area around Fuels Area C in 2014–18; however, concentrations were often less than the laboratory reporting level. Median gasoline-range organic compound concentrations were greater than the laboratory reporting level at sites 1, 5, 9, 10, and 11. The highest concentrations of gasoline-range organic and diesel-range organic compounds generally were observed in samples collected from sites 10 and 11. Gasoline-range organic compound concentrations ranged from 1,500 to 9,700 micrograms per liter at site 10 and from less than 100 to 13,000 micrograms per liter at site 11. Diesel-range organic compound concentrations ranged from 9,600 to 55,000 micrograms per liter at site 10 and from 560 to 7,300 micrograms per liter at site 11.
Bender, D.A., Galloway, J.M., and Medler, C.J., 2021, Groundwater assessment for petroleum hydrocarbon compounds associated with Fuels Area C, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, 2014–18: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2021–5060, 37 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20215060.
ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)
Table of Contents
- Hydrogeologic Assessment of Fuels Area C
- Assessment of Petroleum Hydrocarbons within and near Fuels Area C
- References Cited
- Appendix 1. Water-Level Data around Fuels Area C, 2014–18
- Appendix 2. Water-Quality Data around Fuels Area C, 2014–18
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Title||Groundwater assessment for petroleum hydrocarbon compounds associated with Fuels Area C, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, 2014–18|
|Series title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Publisher||U.S. Geological Survey|
|Publisher location||Reston, VA|
|Contributing office(s)||Dakota Water Science Center|
|Description||Report: vi, 37 p.; Appendix Table; Data Release; Dataset|
|Other Geospatial||Ellsworth Air Force Base|
|Online Only (Y/N)||Y|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|