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Ground Water Contamination

Step 2: Spill Percolates Through Soil

The contaminant seeps downward and begins to disperse in the aquifer. The contaminant now has formed a contaminant plume.

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In Step 2, the effect of a complex pollutant, such as gasoline, can be seen. A complex pollutant is one containing more than one compound. When these pollutants reach the water table, the different compounds often separate and either sink or float within the aquifer.

All contaminants are affected to some extent by the flow of ground water, which slowly causes the contaminant to spread out into a plume. The plume is the path in which the contaminants are moving through the aquifer. The size of the plume will vary with the physical and chemical nature of the contaminant(s) and the aquifer (see Step 3).

 

Continue to Step 3

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