Source-zone characterization of a chlorinated-solvent contaminated Superfund site in Tucson, AZ

M. L. Brusseau, N. T. Nelson, Z. Zhang, J. E. Blue, J. Rohrer, T. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


An extensive site-characterization project was conducted at a large chlorinated-solvent contaminated Superfund site in Tucson, AZ. The project consisted of several components, including traditional site-characterization activities, tracer tests, laboratory experiments conducted with core material collected from the site, and mathematical modeling. The primary focus of the work presented herein is the analysis of induced-gradient contaminant elution tests conducted in a source zone at the site, investigation of the potential occurrence of immiscible liquid in the saturated zone, characterization of the relationship between mass flux reduction and mass removal, and evaluation of the impact of source-zone management on site remediation. The results of the present study, along with those of prior work, indicate that immiscible liquid is likely present in the saturated zone at the site source zones. Extensive tailing and rebound was observed for the contaminant-elution tests, indicating nonideal transport and mass-transfer behavior. The elution data were analyzed with a source-zone-scale mathematical model, and the results indicated that nonideal immiscible-liquid dissolution was the primary cause of the observed behavior. The time-continuous relationship between mass flux reduction and mass removal associated with the plume-scale pump-and-treat operation exhibited an initial large drop in mass flux with minimal mass removed, followed by a period of minimal mass flux reduction and a second period of large reduction. This behavior reflects the impact of both source-zone and aqueous-plume mass removal dynamics. Ultimately, a greater than 90% reduction in mass flux was achieved for a mass removal of approximately 50%. The influence of source-zone management on site remediation was evaluated by conducting two predictive simulations, one for which the source zones were controlled and one for which they were not. A plume-scale model was used to simulate the composite contaminant concentrations associated with groundwater extracted with the pump-and-treat system, which were compared to measured data. The information generated from this study was used to enhance the site conceptual model, help optimize operation of the pump-and-treat system, and evaluate the utility of source-zone remediation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2007


  • Chlorinated solvent
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Modeling
  • Source zone
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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