Commercial and industrial activities in the Railroad Industrial Area in Fairbanks, Alaska, have resulted in accidental releases of chemicals to the subsurface. Such releases have generated concern regarding local ground-water quality and the potential impact on nearby water-supply wells. Consequently, a study is being conducted to characterize the environmental and hydrologic conditions in the area. Existing reports from numerous previous investigations in the area were reviewed and relevant information from these documents was compiled. Both ground- and surface-water elevations were measured approximately monthly at as many as 50 sites during mass measurements. Selected sites were measured more frequently to assess short-term changes in the ground- and surface-water systems. Supplemental data were also collected outside of the study area to aid in interpretation. Ground water was sampled and analyzed to define the extent of the area affected by petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents. Data show that water levels in nearby rivers and sloughs have a considerable influence on ground-water flow in the study area. Seasonal and shorter term changes in river stage frequently alter and even reverse the direction of ground-water flow. The local ground-water system typically has an upward flow component, but this component is reversed in the upper part of the aquifer during periods of high water levels in the Chena River. These periodic changes in the magnitude and direction of ground-water flow have a considerable influence on the transport of dissolved hydrocarbons in the subsurface. Both petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents were found in ground water at the study area. Typical degradation products of these compounds were also found, indicating that biodegradation by indigenous microorganisms is occurring.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Compilation and preliminary interpretations of hydrologic and water-quality data from the Railroad Industrial Area, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1993-94
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],