Inorganic and organic ground-water chemistry in the Canal Creek area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

Water-Resources Investigations Report 89-4022
By:  and 



Groundwater chemical data were collected from November 1986 through April 1987 in the first phase of a 5-year study to assess the possibility of groundwater contamination in the Canal Creek area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Water samples were collected from 87 observation wells screened in Coastal Plain sediments; 59 samples were collected from the Canal Creek aquifer, 18 from the overlying surficial aquifer, and 10 from the lower confined aquifer. Dissolved solids, chloride, iron, manganese, fluoride, mercury, and chromium are present in concentrations that exceed the Federal maximum contaminant levels for drinking water. Elevated chloride and dissolved-solids concentrations appear to be related from contaminant plumes but also could result from brackish-water intrusion. Excessive concentrations of iron and manganese were the most extensive water quality problems found among the inorganic constituents and are derived from natural dissolution of minerals and oxide coatings in the aquifer sediments. Volatile organic compounds are present in the Canal Creek and surficial aquifers, but samples from the lower confined aquifer do not show any evidence of contamination by inorganic or organic chemicals. The volatile organic contaminants detected in the groundwater and their maximum concentrations (in micrograms/L) include 1,1,2,2- tetrachloroethane (9,000); carbon tetrachloride (480); chloroform (460); 1,1,2-trichloroethane (80); 1,2-dichloroethane (990); 1,1-dichloroethane (3.1); tetrachloroethylene (100); trichloroethylene (1,800); 1,2-trans- dichloroethylene (1,200); 1,1-dichloroethylene (4.4); vinyl chloride (140); benzene (70); and chlorobenzene (39). On the basis of information on past activities in the study area, some sources of the volatile organic compounds include: (1) decontaminants and degreasers; (2) clothing-impregnating operations; (3) the manufacture of impregnite material; (4) the manufacture of tear gas; and (5) fuels used in garages and at the air-field. The high density of most of the detected organic compounds in free-product form would have aided their movement into the aquifers by vertical sinking. The outcrop area of the upper confining unit and an area cut by a paleochannel are most susceptible to contamination because a near-surface impermeable layer is not present. (USGS)

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Inorganic and organic ground-water chemistry in the Canal Creek area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 89-4022
DOI 10.3133/wri894022
Edition -
Year Published 1989
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey ; Books and Open-File Reports [distributor],
Description vii, 97 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
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