Environmental science and pollution research international

Performance of different assessment methods to evaluate contaminant sources and fate in a coastal aquifer.

PMID 26006074


The present study deals with the application of different monitoring techniques and numerical models to characterize coastal aquifers affected by multiple sources of contamination. Specifically, equivalent freshwater heads in 243 monitoring wells were used to reconstruct the piezometric map of the studied aquifer; flow meter tests were carried out to infer vertical groundwater fluxes at selected wells; deuterium and oxygen isotopes were used to identify the groundwater origin, and tritium was analyzed to estimate the residence time; compound-specific isotope analyses and microbial analyses were employed to track different sources of contamination and their degradation; numerical modelling was used to estimate and verify groundwater flow direction and magnitude throughout the aquifer. The comparison of the information level for each technique allowed determining which of the applied approaches showed the best results to locate the possible sources and better understanding of the fate of the contaminants. This study reports a detailed site characterization process and outcomes for a coastal industrial site, where a comprehensive conceptual model of pollution and seawater intrusion has been built using different assessment methods. Information and results from this study encourages combining different methods for the design and implementation of the monitoring activities in real-life coastal contaminated sites in order to develop an appropriate strategy for control and remediation of the contamination.