Delineation of contaminant plume for an inorganic contaminated site using electrical resistivity tomography: comparison with direct-push technique

  • Qing Liao
  • Yaping Deng
  • Xiaoqing Shi
  • Yuanyuan Sun
  • Weidong Duan
  • Jichun Wu


Precise delineation of contaminant plume distribution is essential for effective remediation of contaminated sites. Traditional in situ investigation methods like direct-push (DP) sampling are accurate, but are usually intrusive and costly. Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) method, as a non-invasive geophysical technique to map spatiotemporal changes in resistivity of the subsurface, is becoming increasingly popular in environmental science. However, the resolution of ERT for delineation of contaminant plumes still remains controversial. In this study, ERT and DP technique were both conducted at a real inorganic contaminated site. The reliability of the ERT method was validated by the direct comparisons of their investigation results that the resistivity acquired by ERT method is in accordance with the total dissolved solid concentration in groundwater and the overall variation of the total iron content in soil obtained by DP technique. After testifying the applicability of ERT method for contaminant identification, the extension of contaminant plume at the study site was revealed by supplementary ERT surveys conducted subsequently in the surrounding area of the contaminant source zone.


Inorganic contaminant Plume delineation Electrical resistivity tomography Direct-push technique 



This work was financially supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China grants (No. U1503282 and 41672229). The authors would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions, which significantly improved the quality of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Surficial Geochemistry of Ministry of Education, School of Earth Sciences and EngineeringNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Tsaker Chemical Group LimitedDongguangChina

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