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Spectral Induced Polarization (SIP) signatures of clayey soils containing tolueneNormal access

Authors: A. Ustra, L. Slater, D. Ntarlagiannis and V. Elis
Issue: Vol 10, No 6, December 2012 pp. 503 - 515
DOI: 10.3997/1873-0604.2012015
Special Topic: Induced Polarization for Near-surface Investigations
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 4.21Mb )

We performed laboratory experiments to investigate the sensitivity of the Spectral Induced Polarization (SIP) method to toluene contamination in clayey soils. We used mixtures of quartzitic sand and montmorillonite as soil samples, artificially contaminated with varying amounts of toluene. Care was taken to quantify the experimental uncertainty resulting from packing since such effects must be quantified if variations in SIP signatures between samples are to be reliably interpreted in terms of the effects of hydrocarbon concentration. The SIP response of all samples following addition of toluene was monitored for a period of 40 days following sample preparation. Stepwise regression was used to examine the statistical significance of correlations between (i) clay content and (ii) toluene concentration and SIP parameters. Both single-frequency real and imaginary conductivity measurements, along with the integral chargeability, normalized chargeability, DC conductivity and time constant obtained from a Debye decomposition fitting, were examined in this regression analysis. The SIP measurements show a clear time dependence following sample preparation, indicating that samples containing toluene may take significant time to reach an equilibrium electrical response. SIP measurements are significantly related to toluene content shortly after sample preparation, when the expected dependence of SIP on clay concentration is apparently suppressed. However, for the state of electrical equilibrium after 40 days (interpreted to indicate surface chemistry at equilibrium) there is no significant relation between SIP measurements and toluene content; instead SIP measurements are then significantly correlated with clay concentration. The total chargeability, normalized chargeability and relaxation time obtained from the Debye decomposition show no correlation with toluene content, indicating that this procedure, which likely integrates over multiple mechanisms, may not be suitable for understanding relationships between SIP and hydrocarbon contamination. We find only small low-frequency polarization signals observed in relation to toluene concentration (2 mrad at 0.01 Hz), which initially decreases the interfacial polarization. Unlike earlier works, our results do not support the use of the SIP method as a tool for monitoring toluene contamination in clay soils.

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