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A multidisciplinary procedure to evaluate and optimize the efficacy of hydraulic barriers in contaminated sites: a case study in Northern Italy

Chelli, Alessandro, Zanini, Andrea, Petrella, Emma, Feo, Alessandra, Celico, Fulvio
Environmental earth sciences 2018 v.77 no.6 pp. 246
aquifers, case studies, groundwater contamination, hydrodynamics, hydrologic models, mathematical models, radiocarbon dating, surface water, Italy
In the last decades, hydraulic barriers have been activated in a large number of polluted sites with the aim of preventing groundwater pollution outside the contaminated area. From a regulatory point of view, there is the need of evaluating the efficacy of these barriers. For this reason, the goal of the present study is to apply a coupled experimental modelling approach aimed at evaluating the efficacy of the barrier and providing management strategies. In particular, a case study in Italy is investigated. The study case is of main interest because of its complexity due to a heterogeneous aquifer and the presence of surface water that interacts with the below aquifer. The study has been carried out through the experimental characterization of the aquifer system (coupling the classic stratigraphic techniques with the results of radiocarbon dating, as well as through pumping and injection tests) and its hydrogeological behaviour (by means of hydraulic- and the stream-head measurements, as well as some isotopic investigations), and the implementation of a numerical model (through MODFLOW 2005). The results show the effectiveness of the coupled experimental modelling approach to analyse and simulate the hydrodynamics within the test aquifer system, as well as to evaluate the efficacy of the hydraulic barrier. Based on the results of the numerical model, easy solutions were designed to manage the barrier.