Groundwater protection and risk assessment of contaminated sites (e.g. abandoned landfills, industrial waste facilities, gasoline stations, and dry cleaners) situated in complex glacial landscapes are extremely challenging. A common method to assess the risks for leakage and contamination of groundwater and surface water is to develop hydraulic models. However, reliable models need to contain information about both the three-dimensional (3D) distribution of the deposits and their hydraulic properties. Environmental risk assessments therefore require highly detailed digital 3D geological models. In order to construct models with this degree of detail, dense data coverage with high-quality data is necessary. Many studies rely of few data sources, resulting in relatively sparse data. In this study we demonstrate how 6 different data sources can be combined to gain new insight on the geological history, which is central to the subsequent 3D geological modelling. The analyses in this study include (i) geomorphology, (ii) spear-auger mapping and near-surface electromagnetic induction data, (iii) borehole analyses, (iv) geoelectrical profiling, and (v) transient electromagnetic measurements. The study area is located on the island of Samsø in the central part of Denmark, where a digital 3D geological model is constructed. The model consists of combined layer and voxel models and covers a small area (~1 km2) surrounding a former landfill (Pillemark). The near-surface geology is characterized by a dead-ice landscape formed by glaciers during the Weichselian ice-age. By interpreting the new data it has been possible to update and revise the geological history, which was used during the development of a highly detailed 3D geological model. This model was constructed combining layers and voxels in order to better represent the complex geology and incorporate all the details provided by the different data sources. The novel geological understanding was used to update the risk assessment of the Pillemark landfill, where a remedial pumping today is on-going. The immediate risk is related to the migration of landfill leachate downgradient through a lacustrine sandy aquifer and wetlands. Groundwater used for drinking water purposes is abstracted from an underlying sand and gravel aquifer (Tebbestrup formation), which is protected by a clay till (mid Danish till) found in the entire Pillemark area. A vertical hydraulic gradient from the upper to the lower aquifer indicates groundwater flow. However, the actual impact of landfill on the deeper aquifer has to be assessed by a detailed evaluation of the drainage system, pumping schemes and groundwater quality in the area. The 3D geological model is an important step toward the development of a groundwater flow model, required in order to establish a water balance for the hydrogeological system and estimate the vertical transport.
- Geological modelling
- Leachate risk assessment