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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


Contamination in Fractured Rock Aquifers

USGS scientist collecting water samples for chemical analysis and measuring field parameters.
USGS scientist collecting water samples for chemical analysis and measuring pH, specific conductance, and other field parameters of water pumped from a well (not in photo). The water sample was analyzed for contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (circa 2005) -- from the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Research Site

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Fractured-rock aquifers are widely distributed near land surface and are highly susceptible to contamination from human activities. Researchers are developing an improved understanding of the movement of water and contaminants in fractured-rock aquifers, methods for characterization of field conditions, and modeling tools. Contaminant transport and fate is fundamentally different in fractured rock than in unconsolidated (sand and gravel) aquifers. Significantly more uncertainty exists as to the direction and rate of contaminant migration, as well as the processes and factors that control chemical and microbial transformations. At many contaminated sites across the Nation, remedial action is delayed or stymied by the complexity of contaminated fractured-rock aquifers. Long-term research on contamination in fractured-rock aquifers has been conducted at the Program’s two field research sites:

Chlorinated Solvents in Fractured Sedimentary Rock -- Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Research Site, West Trenton, New Jersey

Multidisciplinary Characterization of Contaminant Transport in Fractured Rock -- Mirror Lake, New Hampshire [Completed]

Other Program Fractured Rock Research

Program Science Feature Articles on Fractured Rock Research

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