Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) responses for sub-surface salt contamination and solid waste: modeling and controlled lysimeter studies
The assessment of polluted areas and municipal solid waste (MSW) sites using non-destructive geophysical methods is timely and much needed in the field of environmental monitoring and management. The objectives of this study are (i) to evaluate the ground-penetrating radar (GPR) wave responses as a result of different electrical conductivity (EC) in groundwater and (ii) to conduct MSW stratification using a controlled lysimeter and modeling approach. A GPR wave simulation was carried out using GprMax2D software, and the field test was done on two lysimeters that were filled with sand (Lysimeter-1) and MSW (Lysimeter-2). A Pulse EKKO-Pro GPR system with 200- and 500-MHz center frequency antennae was used to collect GPR field data. Amplitudes of GPR-reflected waves (sub-surface reflectors and water table) were studied under different EC levels injected to the water table. Modeling results revealed that the signal strength of the reflected wave decreases with increasing EC levels and the disappearance of the subsurface reflection and wave amplitude reaching zero at higher EC levels (when EC >0.28 S/m). Further, when the EC level was high, the plume thickness did not have a significant effect on the amplitude of the reflected wave. However, it was also found that reflected signal strength decreases with increasing plume thickness at a given EC level. 2D GPR profile images under wet conditions showed stratification of the waste layers and relative thickness, but it was difficult to resolve the waste layers under dry conditions. These results show that the GPR as a non-destructive method with a relatively larger sample volume can be used to identify highly polluted areas with inorganic contaminants in groundwater and waste stratification. The current methods of MSW dumpsite investigation are tedious, destructive, time consuming, costly, and provide only point-scale measurements. However, further research is needed to verify the results under heterogeneous aquifer conditions and complex dumpsite conditions.
KeywordsContamination Groundwater Ground-penetrating radar Leachate Municipal solid waste
Authors wish to acknowledge the Crossing Boundaries project of the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, SaciWATERs in Hyderabad, India, and the Irrigation and Water Engineering Group at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, for providing the SAWA fellowship and research funding to carry out this study; the National Research Council of Sri Lanka for providing financial assistance to purchase GPR equipment; and Dr. A. Giannopoulos of University of Edinburgh, UK, for providing the GprMax2D model.
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