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Detection of landfill cover damage using geophysical methods

Abstract : On closed landfills, impermeable covers are capping the waste in order to minimize water infiltration and accumulation of leachate inside the waste. In France, the cover composition depends notably on the kind of stored waste. In cases of hazardous waste, the cover must be composed of a drainage layer under the top soil and a geomembrane or a Geosynthetic Clay Liner (GCL) associated with an underlying 1.0 m thick low permeability material to ensure its tightness. However, this protection cover is sometimes damaged leading to an escape of landfill gazes and an unusual increase of leachate within the waste after rainy events. As leachate treatment is very expensive, it appears necessary to locate the weakness zones of the cover and assess their sizes in order to limit maintenance cost on landfills. In order to detect damages in the cover, the 2 following geophysical methods have been carried out on a French landfill: cartography with an Automatic Resistivity Profiling (ARP©), the Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and the Self Potential method (SP). The joint use of these methods has given us the opportunity to determine the contribution of each of them for cover's characterization. The ARP survey has put in evidence the lateral heterogeneity of cover materials on the whole landfill. The ERT has confirmed the variability of the cover composition but also provided information about the cover thickness and the damaging of the GCL. SP measurements have revealed a negative anomaly at the top of the landfill, possibly linked with a thin and damaged cover and therefore a greater proximity of waste. Finally, manual augers holes have enabled to associate electrical resistivity properties with different materials used in the cover and the damaged GCL. This study on a hazardous waste landfill shows that geophysical methods associated with manual auger holes have allowed to improve the knowledge of the cover. Thus, the damaged areas detected thanks to measurements performed on site may be useful for the landfill manager who can optimize the drilling survey necessary to check the nature of defects and then choose a suited remediation of the cover.
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Fanny Genelle, Colette Sirieix, Joëlle Riss, Véronique Naudet, Stéphane Renie, et al.. Detection of landfill cover damage using geophysical methods. Near Surface Geophysics, European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), 2014, 12 (5), pp.599-611. ⟨10.3997/1873-0604.2014018⟩. ⟨halshs-01513123⟩

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