Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Geophysicist Develops Method For Finding Underground Contaminants

Date:
December 6, 2002
Source:
University Of Rhode Island
Summary:
When a property is suspected of having contaminated soil or groundwater, it is usually a lengthy and costly process to confirm the presence of pollutants and to delineate the extent of the contamination. Soon that process may be simplified considerably.

KINGSTON, R.I. – November 25, 2002 – When a property is suspected of having contaminated soil or groundwater, it is usually a lengthy and costly process to confirm the presence of pollutants and to delineate the extent of the contamination. Soon that process may be simplified considerably.

University of Rhode Island geophysicist Reinhard Frohlich, an associate professor of geosciences, has devised a cost-effective, new method for finding underground contaminants that will reduce drilling and digging beneath the surface. By inserting two metal spikes in the ground at various distances and connecting them to an electric current, Frohlich can measure the voltage between the spikes and determine the resistivity of the soil, which tells him if the soil is polluted.

"My initial objective was to do an experiment at the surface that would explain what was going on beneath the surface," said Frohlich, whose research was funded by a $55,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Resistivity measurements, which calculate a material's opposition to the flow of electric current, are widely used to track contaminated salts dissolved in groundwater because they are good conductors of electricity. But Frohlich's experiments focused on finding organic compounds like toluene, benzene, xylene, ethylbenzene, phenol and other cancer-causing substances that do not conduct electricity.

"Our system seems to work very well on all organic compounds. Resistivity increases significantly in areas where the aquifer is polluted compared to clean areas," he said. "We should be able to use this as the first step in the remediation process because it's quicker and allows us to drill fewer borings into the aquifer." Frohlich tested his system at the Picillo Pig Farm in West Coventry, a Superfund site where illegal dumping of chemical waste was discovered following an explosion in 1978. The R.I. Department of Environmental Management and the EPA have been monitoring and cleaning the site for more than 20 years.

"The Picillo Farm is a suitable site for our experiments because the results can be compared with the many monitoring wells and other analyses that have been conducted there over the years," Frohlich said. In addition to field tests at the Picillo Farm, Frohlich conducted controlled laboratory tests comparing clean soil with contaminated soil of known composition.

His study will next attempt to quantify the amount of contaminants at a given location. "It's one thing to identify a clean or contaminated site, but we want to also get a quantitative value for the contaminants," said Frohlich. "That's something that the EPA would really like to be able to do."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rhode Island. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rhode Island. "Geophysicist Develops Method For Finding Underground Contaminants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021206075800.htm>.
University Of Rhode Island. (2002, December 6). Geophysicist Develops Method For Finding Underground Contaminants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021206075800.htm
University Of Rhode Island. "Geophysicist Develops Method For Finding Underground Contaminants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/12/021206075800.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) — In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins