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Viability of Longitudinal Trenches for Capturing Contaminated Groundwater


Using a groundwater flow and mass transport model, this study compared the capability of trenches with permeable backfill for capturing hypothetical contaminant plumes in homogeneous and heterogeneous unconfined aquifers. Longitudinal (parallel to groundwater flow), as well as conventional transverse (perpendicular to groundwater flow) trench configurations were considered. Alternate trench configurations intercepted the leading tip of an initial contaminant plume and had identical length, equal to the cross-gradient width of the plume. A longitudinal trench required 31% less time than its transverse counterpart to remediate a homogeneous aquifer. By contrast, in simulated heterogeneous aquifers, longitudinal remediation timeframes ranged from 41% less to 33% more than transverse trenches. Results suggest that longitudinal trenches may be a viable alternative for narrow contaminant plumes under low-groundwater velocity conditions, but may be impractical for plumes with wide leading tips, or in complex heterogeneous aquifers with divergent flow.

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Correspondence to Paul F. Hudak.

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Hudak, P.F. Viability of Longitudinal Trenches for Capturing Contaminated Groundwater. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 84, 418–421 (2010).

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  • Longitudinal trench
  • Groundwater
  • Contaminant plume