A New Multilevel Ground Water Monitoring System Using Multichannel Tubing


  • Murray D. Einarson,

    1. Murray D. Einarson (Einarson & Associates, 3806 El Centra Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306; [650J 494–0946) is a consulting hydrogeologist based in Palo Alto, California. His work focuses on developing innovative and more effective ways to characterize and remediate plumes of dissolved contaminants.
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  • John A. Cherry

    1. John A. Cherry is a professor at the University of Waterloo (200 University Ave. W., Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1 Canada; [519] 885–1211). His research for the last 25 years has focused on field studies of ground water contamination, including the integration of field information with laboratory and modeling studies for assessment of site contamination and remedial options.
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A new multilevel ground water monitoring system has been developed that uses custom-extruded flexible 1.6-inch (4.1 cm) outside-diameter (O.D.) multichannel HOPE tubing (referred to as Continuous Multichannel Tubing or CMT) to monitor as many as seven discrete zones within a single borehole in either unconsolidated sediments or bedrock. Prior to inserting the tubing in the borehole, ports are created that allow ground water to enter six outer pie-shaped channels (nominal diameter = 0.5 inch [1.3 cm]) and a central hexagonal center channel (nominal diameter = 0.4 inch [1 cm]) at different depths, facilitating the measurement of depth-discrete piezometric heads and the collection of depth-discrete ground water samples. Sand packs and annular seals between the various monitored zones can be installed using conventional tremie methods. Alternatively, bentonite packers and prepacked sand packs have been developed that are attached to the tubing at the ground surface, facilitating precise positioning of annular seals and sand packs. Inflatable rubber packers for permanent or temporary installations in bedrock aquifers are currently undergoing site trials. Hydraulic heads are measured with conventional water-level meters or electronic pressure transducers to generate vertical profiles of hydraulic head. Ground water samples are collected using peristaltic pumps, small-diameter bailers, inertial lift pumps, or small-diameter canister samplers.

For monitoring hydrophobic organic compounds, the CMT tubing is susceptible to both positive and negative biases caused by sorption, desorption, and diffusion. These biases can be minimized by: (1) purging the channels prior to sampling, (2) collecting samples from separate 0.25-inch (0.64 cm) O.D. Teflon sampling tubing inserted to the bottom of each sampling channel, or (3) collecting the samples downhole using sampling devices positioned next to the intake ports. More than 1000 CMT multilevel wells have been installed in North America and Europe to depths up to 260 feet (79 m) below ground surface. These wells have been installed in boreholes created in unconsolidated sediments and bedrock using a wide range of drilling equipment, including sonic, air rotary, diamond-bit coring, hollow-stem auger, and direct push. This paper presents a discussion of three field trials of the system, demonstrating its versatility and illustrating the type of depth-discrete data that can be collected with the system.