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Model driven Soil Probing, Site Assessment and Evaluation

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New soil assessment techniques

Contaminated land management demands implementation of the appropriate schemes and procedures to support decision making in this field. Evaluating soil conditions is therefore paramount to determining environmental pollution to take successful action against contaminant sources and spreading.

Climate Change and Environment

Conventional techniques for site characterisation usually entail drilling to collect a sample that is subsequently sent for chemical/toxicological analysis. However, these methods are time consuming, cost intensive and often do not support decision making with regard to sustainable remediation. As a consequence, improved technologies and tools for step-by-step site characterisation are required. The EU-funded 'Model driven soil probing, site assessment and evaluation' (Modelprobe) project developed advanced geophysical and biogeochemical site characterisation techniques and new vegetation analysis methods. The techniques are laid down in a guideline handbook and an e-learning course. The approach allows non-invasive surveys of the soil heterogeneity and identification of potential contamination. The consortium tested, optimised and demonstrated the proposed approach at fully equipped and characterised European reference sites in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Norway. The new techniques involved the integration of direct push probing systems with geophysical methods such as self-potential, electrical impedance tomography and spectral induced polarisation. Biogeochemical methods were also employed, such as compound-specific isotope analysis and BACTRAP analyses for assessment of microbial in situ activity. These were combined with assays for monitoring dechlorinating microorganisms and biosensors to evaluate other microbial degradation activities. For monitoring ecotoxicity, partners proposed bioassays that would determine the impact on ecosystems and assess the effectiveness of remediation measures. Innovative laboratory tests were also proposed to assess the bioavailable fraction of persistent contaminants. By incorporating statistical analysis and modelling at different stages, the proposed approach resulted in an improved view of soil and subsurface contamination. In the long term, this would provide a sound basis for cost-effective risk assessment and aid decision making towards the most appropriate sustainable remediation strategy. Through specific guidelines for applying the new tools, Modelprobe partners considered to substitute the laborious and costly methods currently employed. Implementation of the developed strategy by stakeholders is expected to lead to the prompt identification of soil contamination and adoption of the most suitable remediation scheme.

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