Diffusion and drive-point sampling to detect ordnance-related compounds in shallow ground water beneath Snake Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2001-02

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4133



Diffusion samplers and temporary drive points were used to test for ordnance-related compounds in ground water discharging to Snake Pond near Camp Edwards at the Massachusetts Military Reservation, Cape Cod, MA. The contamination resulted from artillery use and weapons testing at various ranges upgradient of the pond.The diffusion samplers were constructed with a high-grade cellulose membrane that allowed diffusion of 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), into deionized water inside the samplers. Laboratory tests confirmed that the cellulose membrane was permeable to RDX and HMX. One transect of 22 diffusion samplers was installed and retrieved in August-September 2001, and 12 transects with a total of 108 samplers were installed and retrieved in September-October 2001. The diffusion samplers were buried about 0.5 feet into the pond-bottom sediments by scuba divers and allowed to equilibrate with the ground water beneath the pond bottom for 13 to 27 days before retrieval. Water samples were collected from temporary well points driven about 2-4 feet into the pond bottom at 21 sites in December 2001 and March 2002 for analysis of explosives and perchlorate to confirm the diffusion-sampling results. The water samples from the diffusion samplers exhibited numerous chromatographic peaks, but evaluation of the photo-diode-array spectra indicated that most of the peaks did not represent the target compounds. The peaks probably are associated with natural organic compounds present in the soft, organically enriched pond-bottom sediments. The presence of four explosive compounds at five widely spaced sites was confirmed by the photo-diode-array analysis, but the compounds are not generally found in contaminated ground water near the ranges. No explosives were detected in water samples obtained from the drive points. Perchlorate was detected at less than 1 microgram per liter in two drive-point samples collected at the same site on two dates about 3 months apart. The source of the perchlorate in the samples could not be related directly to other contamination from Camp Edwards with the available information. The results from the diffusion and drive-point sampling do not indicate an area of ground-water discharge with concentrations of the ordnance-related compounds that are sufficiently elevated to be detected by these sampling methods. The diffusion and drive-point sampling data cannot be interpreted further without additional information concerning the pattern of ground-water flow at Snake Pond and the distributions of RDX, HMX, and perchlorate in ground water in the aquifer near the pond.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Diffusion and drive-point sampling to detect ordnance-related compounds in shallow ground water beneath Snake Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2001-02
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 2003-4133
DOI 10.3133/wri034133
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 25 p.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Other Geospatial Cape Cod
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