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Effects of Cone Penetrometer Testing on Shallow Hydrogeology at a Contaminated Site

by Andrew Putt, Erin Kelly, Kenneth A Lowe, Miguel Rodriguez Jr, Terry C Hazen
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Frontiers in Environmental Science
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Penetration testing is a popular and instantaneous technique for subsurface mapping, contaminant tracking, and the determination of soil characteristics. While the small footprint and reproducibility of cone penetrometer testing makes it an ideal method for in-situ subsurface investigations at contaminated sites, the effects to local shallow groundwater wells and measurable influence on monitoring networks common at contaminated sites is unknown. Physical and geochemical parameters associated with cone penetrometer testing were measured from a transect of shallow groundwater monitoring wells adjacent to penetrometer testing. For wells screened above the depth of cone refusal, the physical advancement and retraction of the cone had a significant effect (p < 0.01) on water level for several pushes within 10 meters of a monitoring well, and a measured increase in specific conductivity. No effect on geochemistry or water level was observed in continuous monitoring data from wells screened below the depth of cone refusal, but variability in specific conductivity from these wells during penetration testing was only a fraction of the natural variation measured during precipitation events. Continuous measurements of specific conductivity and water level demonstrated that the effects of penetration testing have limited spatial and temporal distributions with a null effect post-testing.