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    Extremely Fast IP Used to Delineate Buried Landfills

    Publisher – Presented at the 5th Meeting of Environmental & Engineering Geophysics – European Section, Budapest, Hungary, 1999.

    Authors – Norman R. Carlson, Cris Mauldin Mayerle, Kenneth L. Zonge, Zonge Engineering and Research Organization, Inc.

    Paper – [pdf] ENV_Landfill-EuropeanEEGS-1999


    Determining the location of old, poorly-documented, buried landfills has become a significant concern in many places where development is hindered by their presence. Case studies of six landfills verify the accuracy of induced polarization and resistivity data for delineating waste. At all sites, IP anomalies (>3 milliseconds) correspond to solid waste verified by drilling and trenching. New methodology now provides a means for the efficient acquisition of IP and resistivity data.

    While induced polarization (IP) is a well-established minerals exploration tool, it was historically too expensive for most environmental applications. In the past, research has indicated that some buried landfills exhibit an IP effect, but studies have been limited by the fact that IP data are relatively slow and expensive to acquire relative to other geophysical methods such as magnetics or conductivity. New equipment, including multi-channel receivers, computer-controlled multiplexers, and 2-D smooth-model inversion processing now allow very fast, high resolution IP acquisition, resulting in significantly less expensive data sets. A large, statistically significant amount of data has now been acquired over a variety of buried landfills, confirming the correlation between buried waste and IP effects.

    In delineating landfills, the IP method often has significant advantages over several other geophysical methods, including greater flexibility in depth of investigation than ground penetrating radar and better vertical resolution than most existing conductivity systems.

    In addition, since the IP effect does not appear to depend on large metallic objects, the IP method has been successful at delineating buried, non-metallic waste that could not be detected with a magnetometer. As a result, the IP method has become our method-of-choice in landfill mapping projects, particularly when thickness of soil cover and thickness of waste are of concern to clients.

    In the research to date, the IP effect has been shown to be a more reliable indicator of subsurface waste than other geophysical methods such as conductivity or magnetics, and the depth of investigation of the IP method is significantly deeper than ground penetrating radar. With recent improvements in equipment allowing very fast data acquisition, the IP method is now an economic, non-intrusive method for determining the thickness of soil cover as well as the thickness of waste in buried landfills. Research continues into using the IP method for differentiation of types of waste.