Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 15, pp 8914–8931 | Cite as

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

  • 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
New approaches for low-invasive contaminated site characterization, monitoring and modelling


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 mechanisms.


Hydrogeophysics GPR ERT Electrical methods Cross-hole Contamination 



This research was made possible by funding from the EU FP7 collaborative projects ModelPROBE “Model driven soil probing, site assessment and evaluation” and SoilCAM “Soil contamination: advanced integrated characterization and time-lapse monitoring.”


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Cassiani
    • 1
  • Andrew Binley
    • 2
  • Andreas Kemna
    • 3
  • Markus Wehrer
    • 4
  • Adrian Flores Orozco
    • 3
    • 5
  • Rita Deiana
    • 6
  • Jacopo Boaga
    • 1
  • Matteo Rossi
    • 1
  • Peter Dietrich
    • 7
  • Ulrike Werban
    • 7
  • Ludwig Zschornack
    • 7
  • Alberto Godio
    • 8
  • Arash JafarGandomi
    • 2
  • Gian Piero Deidda
    • 9
  1. 1.Dipartimento di GeoscienzeUniversità di PadovaPadovaItaly
  2. 2.Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  3. 3.Department of Geodynamics and GeophysicsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  4. 4.Institut für GeowissenschaftenFriedrich-Schiller-UniversitätJenaGermany
  5. 5.Department of Geodesy and GeoinformationTechnical University of WienViennaAustria
  6. 6.Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali: Archeologia, Storia dell’Arte, del Cinema e della MusicaUniversità di PadovaPadovaItaly
  7. 7.UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany
  8. 8.Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell’Ambiente, del Territorio e delle InfrastrutturePolitecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly
  9. 9.Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale e ArchitetturaUniversità di CagliariCagliariItaly

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