Dissolution and transport of TNT, RDX, and composition B in saturated soil columns

Katerina M. Dontsova, Sally L. Yost, Jiri Šimunek, Judith C. Pennington, Clint W. Williford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Low-order detonations and blow-in-place procedures on military training ranges can result in residual solid explosive formulations to serve as distributed point sources for ground water contamination. This study was conducted to determine if distribution coefficients from batch studies and transport parameters of pure compounds in solution adequately describe explosive transport where compounds are present as solid particles in formulations. Saturated column transport experiments were conducted with 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX), and the explosive formulation, Composition B (Comp B) (59.5 ± 2.0% RDX, 39.5 ± 2.3% TNT, and 1% wax) in solid and dissolved forms. The two soils used were Plymouth loamy sand (mesic, coated Typic Quartzipsamments) from Camp Edwards, MA and Adler silt loam (coarse-silty, mixed, superactive, thermic Fluvaquentic Eutrudepts) from Vicksburg, MS. Interrupted flow experiments were used to determine if explosives were at equilibrium distribution between soil and solution phases. The HYDRUS-ID code was used to determine fate and transport parameters. Results indicated that sorption of high explosives was rate limited. The behavior of dissolved Comp B was similar to the behavior of pure TNT and RDX. Behavior of solid Comp B was controlled by dissolution that depended on physical properties of the Comp B sample. Adsorption coefficients determined by HYDRUS-ID were different from those determined in batch tests for the same soils. Use of parameters specific to formulations will improve fate and transport predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2043-2054
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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