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Non-invasive characterization of the Trecate (Italy) crude-oil contaminated site: links between contamination and geophysical signals

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Giorgio Cassiani
  • Andrew Binley
  • Andreas Kemna
  • Markus Wehrer
  • Adrian Flores-Orozco
  • Rita Deiana
  • Jacopo Boaga
  • Matteo Rossi
  • Peter Dietrich
  • Ulrike Werban
  • Ludwig Zschornack
  • Alberto Godio
  • Arash JafarGandomi
  • Gian Piero Deidda
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number15
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)8914-8931
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/03/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The characterization of contaminated sites can benefit from the supplementation of direct investigations with a set of less-invasive, and more extensive, measurements. A combination of geophysical methods and direct push techniques for contaminated land characterization has been proposed within the EU FP7 project ModelPROBE and the affiliated project SoilCAM. In this paper we present results of the investigations conducted at the Trecate field site (NW Italy), which was affected in 1994 by crude oil contamination. The less-invasive investigations include ground-penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and electromagnetic induction (EMI) surveys, together with direct push sampling and soil electrical conductivity (EC) logs.
Many of the geophysical measurements were conducted in time-lapse mode in order to separate static and dynamic signals, the latter being linked to strong seasonal changes in water table elevations. The main challenge was to extract significant geophysical signals linked to contamination from the mix of geological and hydrological signals present at the site. The most significant aspects of this characterization are: (a) the geometrical link between the distribution of contamination and the site's heterogeneity, with particular regard to the presence of less permeable layers, as evidenced by the extensive surface geophysical measurements; and (b) the link between contamination and specific geophysical signals, particularly evident from cross-hole measurements.
The extensive work conducted at the Trecate site shows how a combination of direct (e.g. chemical) and indirect (e.g. geophysical) investigations can lead to a
comprehensive and solid understanding of a contaminated site's functioning.

Bibliographic note

Date of Acceptance: 23/12/2013