INVESTIGATION OF LANDFILL SUBSURFACE AND LEACHATE PLUME DETECTION

USING SEISMIC METHOD

Prepared by: 1. Mohamad Ariefudin bin Malik, 2009352915 3. Faiz Hazwani binti Suhaimi, 2010252054
2. Monisha binti Samuri, 2009994455 4. Shahida binti Mohamad, 2009145975

1.0 INTRODUCTION OF SEISMIC METHOD

Seismic method was been used widely in geophysical explorations since a few decade ago. Seismic
wave is defined as the waves of energy that travel through the earth. Earthquake, explosion, or some
other process that imparts low-frequency acoustic energy is among of those waves. Seismic wave
fields are measured by a seismograph, geophone, hydrophone (in water), or accelerometer. Seismic
waves can be divided into two types which are reflection wave and refraction wave.

2.0 SEISMIC REFLECTION

Seismic reflection uses field equipment similar to seismic refraction, but field and data processing
procedures are employed to maximize the energy reflected along near vertical ray paths by
subsurface density contrasts.

Reflected seismic energy is never a first arrival, and therefore must be identified in a generally
complex set of overlapping seismic arrivals which is generally by collecting and filtering multi-fold
or highly redundant data from numerous shot points per geophone placement. Therefore, the field
and processing time for a given lineal footage of seismic reflection survey are much greater than for
seismic refraction.

However, seismic reflection can be performed in the presence of low velocity zones or velocity
inversions, generally has lateral resolution vastly superior to seismic refraction, and can delineate
very deep density contrasts with much less shot energy and shorter line lengths than would be
required for a comparable refraction survey depth.
















Figure 2.1: Seismic Reflection (Wang,2009)

The main limitations to seismic reflection are its higher cost than refraction (for sites where either
technique could be applied), and its practical limitation to depths generally greater than
approximately 50 feet. At depths less than approximately 50 feet, reflections from subsurface
density contrasts arrive at geophones at nearly the same time as the much higher amplitude ground
roll (surface waves) and air blast (i.e. the sound of the shot). Reflections from greater depths arrive
at geophones after the ground roll and air blast has passed, making these deeper targets easier to
detect and delineate.

Seismic reflection is particularly suited to marine applications (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) where
the inability of water to transmit shear waves makes collection of high quality reflection data
possible even at very shallow depths that would be impractical to impossible on land.


3.0 SEISMIC REFRACTION

Seismic refraction involves measuring the travel time of the component of seismic energy which
travels down to the top of rock (or other distinct density contrast), is refracted along the top of rock,
and returns to the surface as a head wave along a wave front similar to the bow wake of a ship. The
shock waves which return from the top of rock are refracted waves, and for geophones at a distance
from the shot point,
always represent
the first arrival of
seismic energy.

















Figure 3.1: Seismic Refraction (Wang, 2009)

Seismic refraction is generally applicable only where the seismic velocities of layers increase with
depth. Therefore, where higher velocity (e.g. clay) layers may overlie lower velocity (e.g. sand or
gravel) layers, seismic refraction may yield incorrect results (Wang, 2009)




In addition, since seismic refraction requires geophone arrays with lengths of approximately 4 to 5
times the depth to the density contrast of interest (e.g. the top of bedrock), seismic refraction is
commonly limited (as a matter of practicality) to mapping layers only where they occur at depths
less than 100 feet. Greater depths are possible, but the required array lengths may exceed site
dimensions, and the shot energy required to transmit seismic arrivals for the required distances may
necessitate the use of very large explosive charges.

In addition, the lateral resolution of seismic refraction data degrades with increasing array length
since the path that a seismic first arrival travels may migrate laterally.

Recent advances in inversion of seismic refraction data have made it possible to image relatively
small, non-stratigraphic targets such as foundation elements, and to perform refraction profiling in
the presence of localized low velocity zones such as incipient sinkholes.


4.0 COMPARISON REFLECTION AND REFRACTION

The differences between seismic refraction and reflection are summarized in the table below.
Seismic Method Comparison
Refraction Reflection
Typical Targets

Near-horizontal density contrasts at
depths less than ~100 feet

Horizontal to dipping density
contrasts, and laterally restricted
targets such as cavities or tunnels
at depths greater than ~50 feet
Required Site
Conditions
Accessible dimensions greater than
~5x the depth of interest; unpaved
greatly preferred
None
Vertical Resolution

10 to 20 percent of depth 5 to 10 percent of depth
Lateral Resolution ~1/2 the geophone spacing

~1/2 the geophone spacing
Effective Practical
Survey Depth

1/5 to 1/4 the maximum shot-
geophone separation
50 feet

Table 4.1: Comparison of Reflection and Refraction

Note that in situations where both could be applied, seismic reflection generally has better
resolution, but is considerably more expensive. In those situations, the choice between seismic
reflection and refraction becomes an economic decision. In other cases (e.g. very deep/small
targets) only reflection can be expected to work. In still other cases, where boreholes or wells are
accessible, neither refraction, nor reflection may be recommended in favor of seismic tomography.




5.0 LANDFILL

A landfill, also known as a dump is a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial and is the
oldest form of waste treatment. Historically, landfills have been the most common methods of
organized waste disposal.

Landfills may include internal waste disposal sites (where a producer of waste carries out their own
waste disposal at the place of production) as well as sites used by many producers. Many landfills
are also used for other waste management purposes, such as the temporary storage, consolidation
and transfer, or processing of waste material. This will include sorting, treatment and recyling.

A landfill also may refer to ground that has been filled in with soil and rocks instead of waste
materials, so that it can be used for a specific purpose, such as for building houses. Unless they are
stabilized, these areas may experience severe shaking or liquefaction of the ground in a large
earthquake.

During landfill operations the waste collection vehicles are weighed at a weighbridge on arrival and
their load is inspected for wastes that do not accord with the landfill`s waste acceptance criteria.
Afterward, the waste collection vehicles use the existing road network on their way to the tipping
face or working front where they unload their load. After loads are deposited, compactors or dozers
are used to spread and compact the waste on the working face. Before leaving the landfill
boundaries, the waste collection vehicles pass through the wheel cleaning facility. If necessary, they
return to the weighbridge in order to be weighed without their load. Through the weighing process,
the daily incoming waste tonnage can be calculated and listed in databases. In addition to trucks,
some landfills may be equipped to handle railroad containers. The use of 'rail-haul' permits landfills
to be located at more remote sites, without the problems associated with many truck trips.

Typically, in the working face, the compacted waste is covered with soil daily. Alternative waste-
cover materials are several sprayed-on foam products and temporary blankets. Blankets can be lifted
into place with tracked excavators and then removed the following day prior to waste placement.
Chipped wood and chemically 'fixed' bio-solids may also be used as an alternate daily cover. The
space that is occupied daily by the compacted waste and the cover material is called a daily cell.
Waste compaction is critical to extending the life of the landfill. Factors such as waste
compressibility, waste layer thickness and the number of passes of the compactor over the waste
affect the waste densities.

There are large number of adverse impacts may occur from landfill operations. These impacts will
include fatal accidents, such as scavengers buried under waste piles, infrastructure damage, such as
damage to access roads by heavy vehicles, pollution of the local environment, such as contamination
of groundwater and/or aquifers by leakage and residual soil contamination during landfill usage, as
well as after landfill closure; offgassing of methane generated by decaying organic wastes. Methane
is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, and can itself be a danger to
inhabitants of an area, harbouring of disease vectors such as rats and flies, particularly from
improperly operated landfills, which are common in developing countries; injuries to wildlife and
contribute to simple nuisance problems. For instance dust, odour, vermin, or noise pollution.






There are various type of landfills in Malaysia which classified as sanitary landfills, municipal solid
waste landfills, construction and demolition waste landfills and industrial waste landfills.

Sanitary landfill is landfill that uses a clay liner to isolate the trash from the environment. Sights
where waste is isolated from the environment until it is safe. It is considered safe when it has
completely degraded biologically, chemically, and physically. Sanitary landfills use technology to
contain the waste and prevent the leaching out of potentially hazardous substances. There are two
main methods used in sanitary landfills, the trench method and the area method.

Municipal solid waste landfills (MSW) uses a synthetic liner commonly plastic liner to isolate the
trash from the environment. his type of landfill collects household garbage and are regulated by state
and local governments. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established minimum
criteria that these landfills must meet. Some materials may be banned from disposal in municipal
solid waste landfills. Items such as paints, cleaners, chemicals, motor oil, batteries, and pesticides
are some of the common items that are banned from MSW's. However, some household appliances
can be turned into MSW's for disposal.

Construction and demolition waste landfills consist of the debris generated during the construction,
renovation, and demolition of buildings, roads, and bridges. These types of landfills used for debris
generated during construction, renovations, demolitions of buildings and bridges. The types of debris
include: concrete, wood, asphalt, gypsum (the main component of drywall), metals, bricks, glass,
plastics, trees, stumps, earth, rock, and building components (doors, windows, plumbing fixtures).

Industrial Waste Landfills is a nonhazardous solid waste, consists of nonhazardous waste associated
with manufacturing and other industrial activities. Industrial hazardous waste is a separate form of
waste consisting of nonhazardous waste associated with manufacturing and other industrial
activities.


6.0 LEACHATE

Leachate is any liquid that, in passing through matter, extracts solutes, suspended solids or any other
component of the material through which it has passed.

Leachate is a widely used term in the environmental sciences where it has the specific meaning of a
liquid that has dissolved or entrained environmentally harmful substances which may then enter the
environment. It is most commonly used in the context of land-filling of putrescible or industrial
waste.

In the narrow environmental context leachate is therefore any liquid material that drains from land
or stockpiled material and contains significantly elevated concentrations of undesirable material
derived from the material that it has passed through.

7.0 LANDFILL LEACHATE

Leachate from a landfill varies widely in composition depending on the age of the landfill and the
type of waste that it contains. It can usually contain both dissolved and suspended material. The
generation of leachate is caused principally by precipitation percolating through waste deposited in a
landfill. Once in contact with decomposing solid waste, the percolating water becomes contaminated
and if it then flows out of the waste material it is termed leachate. Additional leachate volume is
produced during this decomposition of carbonaceous material producing a wide range of other
materials including methane, carbon dioxide and a complex mixture of organic acids, aldehydes,
alcohols and simple sugars.

The risks of leachate generation can be mitigated by properly designed and engineered landfill sites,
such as sites that are constructed on geologically impermeable materials or sites that use
impermeable liners made of geomembranes or engineered clay. The use of linings is now mandatory
within both the United States and the European Union except where the waste is deemed inert. In
addition, most toxic and difficult materials are now specifically excluded from landfilling. However
despite much stricter statutory controls leachates from modern sites are found to contain a range of
contaminants that may either be associated with some level of illegal activity or may reflect the
ubiquitous use of a range of difficult materials in household and domestic products which enter the
waste stream legally.

8.0 COMPOSITION OF LANDFILL LEACHATE

When water percolates through the waste, it promotes and assists process of decomposition by
bacteria and fungi. These processes in turn release by-products of decomposition and rapidly use up
any available oxygen creating an anoxic environment. In actively decomposing waste the
temperature rises and the pH falls rapidly and many metal ions which are relatively insoluble at
neutral pH can become dissolved in the developing leachate. The decomposition processes
themselves release further water which adds to the volume of leachate. Leachate also reacts with
materials that are not themselves prone to decomposition such as fire ash, cement based building
materials and gypsum based materials changing the chemical composition. In sites with large
volumes of building waste, especially those containing gypsum plaster, the reaction of leachate with
the gypsum can generate large volumes of hydrogen sulfide which may be released in the leachate
and may also form a large component of the landfill gas.

In a landfill that receives a mixture of municipal, commercial, and mixed industrial waste, but
excludes significant amounts of concentrated specific chemical waste, landfill leachate may be
characterized as a water-based solution of four groups of contaminants ; dissolved organic matter
(alcohols, acids, aldehydes, short chain sugars etc.), inorganic macro components (common cations
and anions including sulfate, chloride, Iron, aluminium, zinc and ammonia), heavy metals (Pb, Ni,
Cu, Hg) , and xenobiotic organic compounds such as halogenated organics, (PCBs, dioxins, etc.).

The physical appearance of leachate when it emerges from a typical landfill site is a strongly
odoured black, yellow or orange coloured cloudy liquid. The smell is acidic and offensive and may
be very pervasive because of hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur rich organic species such as mercaptans.

9.0 LEACHATE MANAGEMENT

In older landfills and those with no membrane between the waste and the underlying geology,
leachate is free to egress the waste directly into the groundwater. In such cases high concentrations
of leachate are often found in nearby springs and flushes. As leachate first emerges it can be black
in colour, anoxic and may be effervescent with dissolved and entrained gases. As it becomes
oxygenated it tends to turn brown or yellow because of the presence of Iron salts in solution and in
suspension. It also quickly develops a bacterial flora often comprising substantial growths of
Sphaerotilus.

10.0 HISTORY OF LANDFILL LEACHATE COLLECTION

In the UK, in the late 1960s, central Government policy was to ensure new landfill sites were being
chosen with permeable underlying geological strata to avoid the build-up of leachate. This policy
was dubbed "dilute and disperse". However, following a number of cases where this policy was seen
to be failing and an exposee in "The Sunday Times" of serious environmental damage being caused
by inappropriate disposal of industrial wastes both policy and the law was changed. The Deposit of
Poisonous Wastes Act 1972 together with The 1974 Local Government Act , made local government
responsible for waste disposal and also responsible for environmental standards enforcement for
waste disposal. Proposed landfill locations also needed to be justified not only by geography but also
scientifically. Many European countries decided to select sites in groundwater free clay geological
conditions or to seal each site with an engineered lining. In the wake of European advancements, the
United States increased its development of leachate retaining and collection systems. This quickly
led from lining in principle, into the use of multiple lining layers in all landfills (minus those truly
inert).

11.0 RE-INJECTION INTO LANDFILL

One method of leachate management that was more common in uncontained sites was leachatere-
circulation in which leachate was collected and re-injected into the waste mass. This process greatly
accelerated decomposition and therefore gas production and had the impact of converting some
leachate volume into landfill gas and reducing the overall volume of leachate for disposal. However
it also tended to increase substantially the concentrations of contaminant materials making it a more
difficult waste to treat.

12.0 REMOVAL TO SEWER SYSTEM

In some older landfills, leachate was directed to the sewers, but this can cause a number of
problems. Toxic metals from leachate passing through the sewage treatment plant concentrate in the
sewage sludge, making it difficult or dangerous to dispose of the sludge without incurring a risk to
the environment. In Europe, regulations and controls have improved in recent decades and toxic
wastes are now no longer permitted to be disposed of to the Municipal Solid Waste landfills, and in
most developed countries the metals problem has diminished. Paradoxically, however, as sewage
treatment works discharges are being improved throughout Europe and many other countries, the
sewage treatment works operators are finding that leachates are difficult waste streams to treat. This
is because leachates contain very high ammoniacal nitrogen concentrations, they are usually very
acidic, they are often anoxic and, if received in large volumes relative to the incoming sewage flow,
they lack the Phosphorus needed to prevent nutrient starvation for the biological communities that
perform the sewage treatment processes. The result is that leachates are a difficult-to-treat waste
stream. However, within aging municipal solid waste landfills, this may not be a problem as the pH
returns close to neutral after the initial stage of acidogenic leachate decomposition. Many sewer
undertakers limit maximum ammoniacal nitrogen
|8|
concentration in their sewers to 250 mg/l to
protect sewer maintenance workers, as the WHO's maximum occupational safety limit would be
exceeded at above pH 9 to 10, which is often the highest permitted pH of permitted sewer
discharges.

Many older leachate streams also contained a variety of synthetic organic species and their
decomposition products, some of which had the potential to be acutely damaging to the
environment.




13.0 ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The risks from waste leachate are due to its high organic contaminant concentrations and high
concentration of ammonia. Pathogenic microorganisms that might be present in it are often cited as
the most important, but pathogenic organism counts reduce rapidly with time in the landfill, so this
only applies to the freshest leachate. Toxic substances may however be present in variable
concentration and their presence is related to the nature of waste deposited.

Most landfills containing organic material will produce methane, some of which dissolves in the
leachate. This could in theory be released in weakly ventilated areas in the treatment plant. All
plants in Europe must now be assessed under the EU ATEX Directive and zoned where explosion
risks are identified to prevent future accidents. The most important requirement is the prevention of
discharge of dissolved methane from untreated leachate when it is discharged into public sewers,
and most sewage treatment authorities limit the permissible discharge concentration of dissolved
methane to 0.14 mg/l, or 1/10 of the lower explosive limit. This entails methane stripping from the
leachate.

The greatest environmental risks occur in the discharges from older sites constructed before modern
engineering standards became mandatory and also from sites in the developing world where modern
standards have not been applied. There are also substantial risks from illegal sites and ad-hoc sites
used by criminal gangs to dispose of waste materials. Leachate streams running directly into the
aquatic environment have both an acute and chronic impact on the environment which may be very
severe and can severely diminish bio-diversity and greatly reduce populations of sensitive species.
Where toxic metals and organics are present this can lead to chronic toxin accumulation in both
local and far distant populations. Rivers impacted by leachate are often yellow in appearance and
often support severe overgrowths of sewage fungus.

14.0 PROBLEMS AND FAILURES

Leachate collection systems can experience myriad of major and minor problems. However, some
troubles are more common than others. One familiar hindrance is clogging from mud and silt. The
clogging can be attributed, in some cases, to the growth of microorganisms in the conduit. The
damp, dark, and waste-laden conditions of pipe are ideal living spaces for microorganisms to spread
and grow. As leachate travels through the pipeline, residue left on the walls of the duct is a perfect
food source for the bacteria inhabiting the space. Another potential reason for clogging is chemical
reactions. Often leachate contains a concoction of chemicals and as the leachate travels it mixes.
Sometimes these mixtures can leave a product behind. Without adequate cleaning and maintenance,
the problem will grow as new blends leave behind more products. Also, the chemicals are capable of
weakening the pipe walls. This can cause the pipes to fail structurally.

15.0 OTHER TYPES OF LEACHATE

Leachate can also be produced from land that was contaminated by chemicals or toxic materials
used in industrial activities such as factories, mines or storage sites. Composting sites in high rainfall
also produce leachate.
Leachate is also associated with stockpiled coal and with waste materials from metal ore mining and
other rock extraction processes, especially those in which sulphide containing materials are exposed
to air and thus to oxygen generating acidic, suplhur rich liquors, often with elevated metal
concentrations.
In the context of civil engineering (more specifically reinforced concrete design), leachate refers to
the effluent of pavement wash-off (that may include melting snow & ice with salt) that permeates
through the cement paste onto the surface of the steel reinforcement, thereby catalyzing its oxidation
and degradation. Leachates can be genotoxic in nature (Singh, A., 2007).

16.0 LEACHING (CHEMISTRY)

Leaching is the process of extracting minerals from a solid by dissolving them in a liquid, either in
nature or through an industrial process. In the chemical processing industry, leaching has a variety
of commercial applications, including separation of metal from ore using acid, and sugar from beets
using hot water. Chloride can also be leached from food.

In a typical leaching operation, the solid mixture to be separated consists of particles, inert insoluble
carrier A and solute B. The solvent, C, is added to the mixture to selectively dissolve B. The
overflow from the stage is free of solids and consists of only solvent C and dissolvedB. The
underflow consists of slurry of liquid of similar composition in the liquid overflow and solid
carrier A. In an ideal leaching equilibrium stage, all the solute is dissolved by the solvent; none of
the carrier is dissolved. The mass ratio of the solid to liquid in the underflow is dependent on the
type of equipment used and properties of the two phases.

Leaching is the process by which inorganic - , organic contaminants or radionuclides are released
from the solid phase into the waterphase under the influence of mineral dissolution, desorption,
complexation processes as affected by pH, redox, dissolved organic matter and (micro) biological
activity. The process itself is universal, as any material exposed to contact with water will leach
components from its surface or its interior depending on the porosity of the material considered.

17.0 PLUME (HYDRODYNAMICS)

In hydrodynamics, a plume is a column of one fluid or gas moving through another. Several effects
control the motion of the fluid, including momentum, diffusion, and buoyancy (for density-driven
flows). When momentum effects are more important than density differences and buoyancy effects,
the plume is usually described as a jet. Plume is a term in the hydrodynamic movement of pollutants
in water or air.








18.0 MOVEMENT OF PLUME

Usually, as a plume moves away from its source, it widens because of entrainment of the
surrounding fluid at its edges. Plume shapes can be influenced by flow in the ambient fluid (for
example, if local wind blowing in the same direction as the plume results in a co-flowing jet). This
usually causes a plume which has initially been 'buoyancy-dominated' to become 'momentum-
dominated' (this transition is usually predicted by a dimensionless number called the Richardson
number).

19.0 FLOW AND DETECTION

A further phenomenon of importance is whether a plume has laminar flow or turbulent flow.
Usually there is a transition from laminar to turbulent as the plume moves away from its source.
This phenomenon can be clearly seen in the rising column of smoke from a cigarette. When high
accuracy is required, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can be employed to simulate plumes, but
the results can be sensitve to the turbulence model chosen. CFD is often undertaken for rocket
plumes, where condensed phase constituents can be present in addition to gaseous constituents.
These types of simulations can become quite complex, including afterburning and thermal radiation,
and (for example) ballistic missile launches are often detected by sensing hot rocket plumes.
Similarly, spacecraft managers are sometimes concerned with impingement of attitude control
system thruster plumes onto sensitive subsystems like solar arrays and star trackers.


Figure 19.1: Industrial air pollution plumes

Another phenomenon which can also be seen clearly in the flow of smoke from a cigarette is that
the leading-edge of the flow, or the starting-plume, is quite often approximately in the shape of a
ring-vortex (smoke ring).

20.0 TYPES OF PLUME

Pollutants released to the ground can work their way down into the groundwater. The resulting body
of polluted water within an aquifer is called a plume, with its migrating edges called plume fronts.
Plumes are used to locate, map, and measure water pollution within the aquifer's total body of water,
and plume fronts to determine directions and speed of the contamination's spreading in it. Water
wells and other testing methods are used to monitor plumes.

Plumes are of considerable importance in the atmospheric dispersion modeling of air pollution. A
classic work on the subject of air pollution plumes is that by Gary Briggs.

A thermal plume is one which is generated by gas rising above heat source. The gas rises because
thermal expansion makes warm gas less dense than the surrounding cooler gas.



21.0 CASE STUDY: LANDFILL SUBSURFACE AND LEACHATE PLUME DETECTION

An integrated geophysical survey was conducted at a landfill site in eastern Pennsylvania to
determine the physical nature and three dimensional geometry of in-situ fill materials and migrating
subsurface fluids. A seismic refraction method was used in this case study. Seismic refraction was
conducted to define the shallow bedrock topography underlying the landfill, estimate thethickness
of landfilled wastes and observe lateral variations in refractor velocity.

The geophysical investigation successfully defined the lateral boundaries of the landfill and detected
buried metal objects. Results of this investigation were used to determine the effectiveness of the on-
site leachate collection system. Meanwhile, it is able to facilitate the placement of subsequent soil
borings and monitoring wells.

The seismic refraction method was employed to estimate the thickness of landfill wastes and
identify potential pathways for contaminated ground water migration. It is based on the generation
and propagation of an elastic wave into the subsurface. An energy source initiates a disturbance at
the ground surface resulting in the generation of an elastic wave. This wave propagated at certain
velocity defined by the elastic properties of the medium.

Initial seismic data processing involved the preliminary calculation of refractor velocity, depth and
dip from first arrival picks and time-distance analysis (Dobrin, 1976).



Figure 21.1: Geophysical survey site location map

Figure 21.2: Plan show the location of the leachate collection system

Figure 21.3: 3-D image of ladfill derived from seismic data

The results of the investigation indicate the presence of two distinct seismic layers within the 50 foot
depth of the investigation. Seismic velocities range from 1200 ft/s to 2200 ft/s for nonindurated, near
surface sediments, to 5000 ft/s to 16000 ft/s for highly weathered bedrock layers respectively.

Refraction from the base of the landfilled materials was not detected, unless the base of the landfill
was coincident with the landfill surface. Figure 21.3 illustrates the three-dimensional landfill as
derived from the seismic data.


Figure 21.4: Enlarged plan map of the leachate plume zone











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Pantelis Soupios(2007), Applocation of Integrated Methods in Mapping Waste Disposal Areas,
Springer-Verlag 2007.

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