Sonic Drilling and Sediment Sampling

Sonic drilling and sediment sampling is a fast, clean, low-impact technology yielding high quality sediment cores.

 

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Sonic Drilling and Sediment Sampling

 Sonic sediment sampling is well suited for research studies as well as environmental projects of a production-orientated nature.  Recently completed sampling projects on the Tittabawassee, Lower Fox, Kalamazoo, and Manistique Rivers continue to demonstrate the superiority of sonic-assisted sampling as the tool of choice to collect undisturbed cores in a cost-effective timeframe.

 

At first glance, a Sonic Drill resembles a conventional drill rig.  The biggest difference is in the drill head itself, which is slightly larger than a standard rotary drill head.  The sonic head is driven by a hydraulic motor which generates high sinusoidal forces that are transmitted downward to the drill string.  The vibratory action causes the surrounding overburden to fluidize, thereby overcoming wall friction and allowing effortless penetration.  The sonic drill vibrates at high frequency and when down pressure is applied allows rapid drilling to proceed with unmatched reliability through most geological formations.  In many instances the frequency can be adjusted to suit site conditions so drilling and coring can be accomplished without the use of any drilling fluid whatsoever…an important requirement for many environmental drilling projects.  The absence of drilling fluids or air is ideal for collection of representative samples for analytical analyses.  In addition, this method minimizes sediment disturbance and compaction which can be equally critical in preserving the strategraphic profile.  Sample cores are collected and preserved in ridged tube liners for inspection, physical profiling, sample processing, and analysis.

 

Suitable site and environmental settings include: terrestrial and floodplain, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and estuarial settings where a wide variety of cohesive to non‐cohesive, fine grain to coarse grained sand, soft to consolidated silt, clay, and ash materials are encountered.  Undisturbed cores are typical through most geological formations (depths of 100 ft or more) and subsurface obstacles including; wood, wood debris, paper pulp, saw dust, fly ash, and industrial wastes. 

 

Capability

 

  • Shallow draft, barge-mounted sonic drill that is easily transported and deployed (30ft x 8ft)

  • Hydraulically advanced high frequency sonic core sampler

  • Produces undisturbed sample cores to depths of 60ft (diameter up to 4 inch) in water depths ranging from 1ft to 20ft

  • Sample cores preserved in tube liners for inspection, physical profiling, and sample processing

  • Unmatched reliability in sediment core collection across a wide range of materials (i.e., fine grain organic silts, sands, gravels, clays, and fly ash)

Suitability

 

  • Streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes

  • Harbors, reservoirs, and estuarial settings

  • Industrial and tailing ponds

  • Fly ash, coal ash, or bottom ash ponds

  • Cohesive to non-cohesive sediments

  • Fine grain to coarse grained sediments

  • Soft to consolidated silt, sand, and clay materials

  • Buried wood and wood debris

  • Paper pulp and saw dust

  • Industrial wastes

Applicability

 

  • Remedial Investigation & Site Characterization

  • Feasibility studies

  • Remediation support

  • Post dredge verification

  • Risk assessment

  • Benthic invertebrate studies

  • Limnologic studies

  • Geomorphological studies

  • Environmental forensics

  • Geotechnical studies

  • Litigation support

  • Ash pond closure studies

Reference Documents

ATS Sonic Flyer

2017 Battelle Presentation

Success Stories - Sonic Drilling and Sampling

Tittabawassee River Remedial Investigation

In 2008, the Tittabawassee River Remedial Investigation was successfully completed under collaborative work plans and agreements between The Dow Chemical Company and the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and USEPA Region 5.  The GeoMorph process has proven to be both highly cost-effective and well accepted by State and Federal Regulators.  During the unprecedented 3-year field investigation of the Tittabawassee River, this process was successfully used to map the river morphology and characterize the nature and extent of primary and secondary Constituents of Interest (COI) in river sediments and floodplain soils along 24 river miles and covering more than 8,000 floodplain acres. During the multi-year investigation, more than 11,000 cores were collected, resulting in 24,715 samples and more than 19,000 analyses for primary COI and 1,200 analyses for secondary COI. 

Lower Fox River Apportionment Investigation

During the 3-year characterization of the Lower Fox River, a multiple lines of evidence approach was used successfully to map the river morphology, characterize river sediments, and determine the distribution of PCBs and other contaminants along 39 river miles. 

 

The characterization included a re-assessment of historical information and contaminant data to comprehensively identify sources of PCBs and other contaminants in the Lower Fox River.

Kalamazoo River Legacy Investigation

In 2013, to further evaluate the nature and extent of potential legacy site impacts within the proposed dredge locations, sediment cores were collected and samples were analyzed for the presence on non-Line 6B constituents.  Sediment cores were collected using the sonic-assisted drilling technique to advance either a check valve sampler or a core barrel vertically into the undisturbed sediment ahead of the outer casing.  During the investigation, more than 100 undisturbed sediment cores were collected in two weeks.  The project Data Quality Objective for sediment core recovery was established at 90% or better.  Core recovery’s using the sonic-assisted sampling averaged 95%.

Manistique River Supplemental Investigation

To further evaluate the nature and extent of potential impact of PCB with in the river and inner harbor, sediment cores were collected and samples were analyzed for the presence of PCB.  Sediment cores were collected using the sonic-assisted drilling technique to advance either check-valve sampler or core barrel vertically into the undistrubed sediment.  Sampling conditions were complicated by the extensive presence of slab wood, wood debris along with several feet of wood chips and saw dust. During the investigation 20 undisturbed sediment cores were collected and 10 monitor well points were installed under direction of USEPA.  The project Data Quality Objective for sediment core recovery was achieved at 90% or greater.

Fly Ash Pond Characterization

To evaluate the chemical and geotechnical characteristics of bottom and fly ash, cores were collected and samples were submitted for analysis.  Cores were collected using the sonic-assisted drilling technique to advance either check valve sampler or core barrel vertically into the fly ash.  During the multi-site investigation 38 cores were successfully collected from 11 ponds at four sites.  Project Data Quality Objective for sediment core recovery was achieved at 80% or greater with typical recoveries greater than 90%.

Lower Fox River Sediment Remediation

The Fox River Cleanup Group and Tetra Tech, Inc. selected ATS as a contractor for the collection of sediment cores in support of the remedial design for the Lower Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The largest contaminated sediment remediation project in the world is anticipated to take 10-years to complete and will result in the removal of approximately 7.5 million cubic yards of sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  Beginning in 2010, ATS collected sediment cores in support of the remedial dredge design, using the sonic-assisted drilling techniques.  Cores were advanced either a check-valve sampler or a core barrel vertically into the undisturbed sediment ahead of the outer casing.  During the infill investigation, numerous undisturbed sediment cores were collected over the multi-year program.  The project Data Quality Objective for sediment core recovery was established at 90% or better.  Core recovery’s using the sonic-assisted sampling was greater than 95%.

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