Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Groundwater sampling goes tubular

05.10.2005


National laboratory practices "Leave No Trace" environmental sampling

"Leave No Trace" is a popular ethic for outdoor recreationists who advocate a natural landscape. Now it is also applicable to groundwater sampling collection sites along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State.

Hydrologists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are using a simple apparatus of ¼-inch-diameter plastic tubing to collect samples at varying levels in the aquifer along the river’s edge. Though a permanent installation, the low-cost, lightweight materials are easy to camouflage with indigenous rocks and vegetation so that the collection site appears undisturbed.



Hydrologists compare the aquifer tube method to sipping groundwater through a long straw. The tube system was developed to provide supplemental monitoring in locations where traditional monitoring wells cannot be installed because of access constraints. It has proven to be economical, visually unobtrusive and effective in providing an accurate picture of the vertical distribution of contaminants in groundwater at a specific location.

To install the tubes, a handheld air hammer is used to drive a temporary steel casing into the ground. Plastic tubing is lowered into the casing. Typically, three tubes are installed at each location, reaching depths of approximately 25, 15, and six feet. The bottom six inches of tubing is screened with stainless steel mesh and provides an opening for drawing water samples.

After the tubes are anchored in place, the casing is removed, leaving a short section of tubing extending out of the ground. Suction from a handheld peristaltic pump slowly withdraws water from the tubes. When the tubes are not in use, the top ends are capped and covered with PVC pipe to protect them from weather, animals and other hazards, and camouflaged with natural materials to blend in with the environment.

The Hanford Site Environmental Restoration Contractor team, with encouragement from the Department of Energy, conceived the tube design in 1995 as a way to expand groundwater monitoring. The Hanford Site produced plutonium for defense during and after World War II and is the scene of the world’s largest environmental cleanup project.

Traditional sampling wells provide the bulk of information used to track contamination as it migrates from Hanford toward the river. But they could not be installed on the shoreline because the area is difficult to access with a drill rig, is often under water and is culturally and ecologically sensitive. Because the installation and sampling equipment is lightweight and easily transported, researchers are able to access many sites by boat.

Site contractors equipped additional sites along the river with the samplers in 1997 and 2004. Today coverage includes 320 tubes located at 132 sites situated approximately half-mile apart along a 26-mile stretch of shoreline.

"Being able to monitor groundwater where we couldn’t put traditional wells has been a real benefit," said PNNL geologist Bob Peterson. "And being able to do it while leaving an area essentially untouched makes the sampling tubes an even better idea."

The tubes provide the ability to get an accurate picture of the vertical distribution of contaminants in groundwater at a specific location. The three tubes typically installed at each location vary in length, enabling the ports at the end of each tube to monitor three discreet depths in the aquifer.

The monitoring methodology has a wide variety of potential applications at sites other than Hanford, Peterson said. The simple equipment and installation logistics mean the aquifer tubes can be employed almost anywhere there is a need to monitor shallow groundwater systems or the saturated sediment zone associated with surface water bodies.

For example, the tubes could be used to monitor subsurface discharge from agricultural areas, river bottom subsurface habitat, estuary health, CERCLA site remedial investigations and EPA total maximum daily load of groundwater influx to streams and lakes, Peterson said. Installations also can be adapted to incorporate in situ instrumentation for continuous monitoring of conditions.

Business and public inquiries on this and other PNNL research and technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or inquiry@pnl.gov .

PNNL is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation. PNNL employs 4,000 staff, has a $700 million annual budget, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab’s inception in 1965.

Judith Graybeal | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pnl.gov/news/2005/05-49.stm
http://www.pnl.gov

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How electric heating could save CO2 emissions
17.12.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power
14.12.2018 | Purdue University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New megalibrary approach proves useful for the rapid discovery of new materials

Northwestern discovery tool is thousands of times faster than conventional screening methods

Different eras of civilization are defined by the discovery of new materials, as new materials drive new capabilities. And yet, identifying the best material...

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New megalibrary approach proves useful for the rapid discovery of new materials

19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

Artificial intelligence meets materials science

19.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

Gut microbiome regulates the intestinal immune system, researchers find

19.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>