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Borehole-Geophysical Investigation of the University of Connecticut Landfill, Storrs, Connecticut

USGS Water Resources Investigation Report 01-4033

Prepared in cooperation with the University of Connecticut

By Carole D. Johnson, F.P. Haeni, John W. Lane, Jr., and Eric A. White


A borehole-geophysical investigation was conducted to help characterize the hydrogeology of the fractured-rock aquifer and the distribution of unconsolidated glacial deposits near the former landfill and chemical waste-disposal pits at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. Eight bedrock boreholes near the landfill and three abandoned domestic wells located nearby were logged using conventional and advanced borehole-geophysical methods from June to October 1999. The conventional geophysical-logging methods included caliper, gamma, fluid temperature, fluid resistivity, and electromagnetic induction. The advanced methods included deviation, optical and acoustic imaging of the borehole wall, heat-pulse flowmeter, and directional radar reflection. Twenty-one shallow piezometers (less than 50-feet deep) were logged with gamma and electromagnetic induction tools to delineate unconsolidated glacial deposits. Five additional shallow bedrock wells were logged with conventional video camera, caliper, electromagnetic induction, and fluid resistivity and temperature tools.

The rock type, foliation, and fracturing of the site were characterized from high-resolution optical-televiewer (OTV) images of rocks penetrated by the boreholes. The rocks are interpreted as fine- to medium-grained quartz-feldspar-biotite-garnet gneiss and schist with local intrusions of quartz diorite and pegmatite and minor concentrations of sulfide mineralization similar to rocks described as the Bigelow Brook Formation on regional geologic maps. Layers containing high concentrations of sulfide minerals appear as high electrical conductivity zones on electromagnetic-induction and borehole-radar logs. Foliation in the rocks generally strikes to the northeast-southwest and dips to the west, consistent with local outcrop observations. The orientation of foliation and small-scale gneissic layering in the rocks, however, varies locally and with depth in some of the boreholes. In two of the boreholes, the foliation strikes predominantly to the northwest and dips to the northeast. Although small-scale faults and lithologic discontinuities were observed in the OTV data, no large-scale faults were observed that appear on regional geologic maps.

Fractures were located and characterized through the use of conventional geophysical, OTV, acoustic-televiewer (ATV), and borehole-radar logs. The orientation of fractures varies considerably across the site; some fractures are parallel to the foliation, whereas others cross-cut the foliation. Many of the transmissive fractures in the bedrock boreholes strike about N170E and N320E with dips of less than 45. Other transmissive fractures strike about N60E with dips of more than 60. Most of the transmissive fractures in the domestic wells strike about N60E and N22E with dips of more than 45. The strike of N60E is parallel to the trend of a thrust fault that appears on regional geologic maps. Vertical flow in the boreholes was measured with the heat-pulse flowmeter under ambient and (or) pumping conditions. Results of ATV, OTV, and conventional logs were used to locate specific zones for flowmeter testing. Ambient downflow was measured in three boreholes, ambient upflow was measured in two other boreholes, and both ambient downflow and upflow were measured in a sixth borehole. The other five bedrock boreholes and domestic wells did not have measurable vertical flow. The highest rate of ambient flow was measured in the background borehole in which upflow and downflow converged and exited the borehole at a fracture zone near a depth of 62 feet. Ambient flow of about 340 gallons per day was measured. In the other five wells, ambient flow of about 20 to 35 gallons per day was measured. Under low-rate pumping (0.25 to 1 gallon per minute), one to six inflow zones were identified in each well. Usually the fractures that are active under ambient conditions contribute to the well under pumping conditions. To prevent ambient vertical flow and the potential for cross-contamination, temporary borehole liners were installed in five of the boreholes.

Specific-capacity and open-hole transmissivity values were determined in eight boreholes completed in bedrock. The specific capacity estimated for these boreholes ranges from 0.14 to 1.6 gallons per minute per foot. The values for open-hole transmissivity range over two orders of magnitude and when proportioned to individual fracture transmissivity, range from 23 to 340 feet squared per day.

Two boreholes had been drilled to intersect electrically conductive zones identified by previous surface-geophysical investigations. The borehole-geophysical results indicate that the boreholes penetrate electrically conductive structures consistent with the anomalies interpreted from the surface-geophysical data. Borehole MW121R was located to intersect a dipping electrically conductive anomaly at about 60 feet, interpreted from the two-dimensional direct current-resistivity survey conducted on the western side of the landfill. The electromagnetic-conductivity log in the borehole contains a high electrical conductivity anomaly at a depth of 69 feet. The magnitude of this anomaly is nearly 10,000 millisiemens per meter and is coincident with a layer containing sulfide mineralization, rather than fractures.

The other borehole, MW105R, was located to intersect another anomaly south of the landfill. This anomaly was interpreted as a north-south striking, westward dipping feature. In the borehole, two south-striking, westward dipping fractures were identified in the ATV, OTV, and radar logs. The specific conductance of the fluid measured near these fractures was as high as 1,250 microsiemens per centimeter. Water-quality samples collected in October 1999 from an isolated zone from 71.5 to 76.5 feet indicated high specific conductance (810 microsiemens per centimeter), high concentrations of iron and cadmium, negative oxidation-reduction potential, and chlorobenzene. Collectively, these parameters indicate that the high specific conductance in the borehole logs for MW105R was caused by landfill leachate. Therefore, the anomaly identified by borehole- and surface-geophysical surveys is interpreted as a conductive lithologic feature and a permeable fracture zone that contains landfill leachate.


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Citation: Johnson, C.D., Haeni, F.P., Lane, J.W., and White, E.A., 2002, Borehole-geophysical investigation of the University of Connecticut landfill, Storrs, Connecticut: U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Investigations Report 01-4033, 187 p.

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