Comparison of approaches for the characterization of contamination at rural megasites

Arno Rein, Steffen Popp, Steffen Zacharias, Carsten Leven, Martin Bittens, Peter Dietrich

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The present work focuses on approaches for the characterization of subsurface contamination, which need to be reliable and cost-effective, particularly for extended and remote areas aimed at being redeveloped. Requirements are discussed with respect to specific conditions at megasites, in order to enable site valorization. In a case study, two approaches are compared, comprising (1) conventional site investigation based on historical surveys and concentration measurements at monitoring wells installed in areas suspected of being polluted and (2) the use of direct push (DP) methods covering the complete area. The DP investigation provided information on the contamination distribution and yielded also important information on hydraulic conditions. Statistical analysis of the results applying indicator kriging revealed that the conventional approach is markedly risky when decision-making relies solely on historical and sparse data. The DP campaign remarkably reduced the uncertainty concerning the estimated occurrence of polluted groundwater at the whole site. Furthermore, monitoring measurements are analyzed showing the possible importance of temporal variability. Taking economical consideration into account, DP-based groundwater screening is recommended to obtain either first or complementary information on the entire site. Based on these data, also locations for a long-term monitoring could be selected if temporal variability is assumed relevant.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1239-1249
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Screening
  • Megasite
  • Direct-push
  • Monitoring
  • Groundwater contamination


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