Significance and Use
This guide provides a general approach to environmental site characterization. Environmental site characterization provides information for a wide variety of uses including:
Determination of ambient background or baseline conditions, including, but not limited to, geochemistry, hydrogeology, microbiology, mineralogy, and water quality.
Assessment of site suitability for a future use or a use which may be compromised by site characteristics, such as flooding, seismic activity, and landslides (mass wasting).
Protection of site quality from the detrimental effects of human activities and natural processes, or minimization of adverse environmental impacts. Specific examples of uses of environmental site characterization for these purposes include: (1) delineation of groundwater or wellhead protection areas, (2) assessing the suitability of sites for disposal of industrial and residential liquid and solid wastes, (3) assessing soil suitability for land treatment of wastes, and (4) evaluating soil suitability for agricultural practices in order to minimize soil erosion and contamination from agricultural chemicals.
Assessment of the type, distribution, and extent of surface and subsurface contamination to determine compliance; risk to human health and the environment; and responsibility for remediation. Such assessments include: (1) sites involved in real estate transactions, (2) controlled and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, (3) controlled and uncontrolled municipal solid waste, wastewater, and other nonhazardous waste disposal sites.
Assessment of surface and subsurface environmental processes that affect the fate, mobilization, and rate of transport of natural and anthropogenic chemicals in the subsurface.
Assessment of the type, distribution, and extent of natural and anthropogenic radioactive elements in the subsurface.
Assessment of the degree of risk that adverse subsurface site conditions not related to 4.1.4 and 4.1.5 pose to human health and safety or the natural ecosystem.
Selection and design of remediation systems for cleanup of subsurface contamination and of other reclamation or rehabilitation practices on disturbed land.
This guide is meant to be a flexible description of investigation requirements; methods defined by other ASTM Standards (Appendix X1) or non-ASTM techniques (Appendix X2) may be appropriate in some circumstances. The methods and amount of effort required for environmental site characterization will vary with site conditions and objectives of the investigation. This standard does not set mandatory guidelines and does not constitute a list of necessary steps or procedures for all investigations. In karst and fractured rock hydrogeologic settings, this guide should be used in conjunction with Guide D5717.
1.1 This guide covers a general approach to planning field investigations that is useful for any type of environmental investigation with a primary focus on the subsurface and major factors affecting the surface and subsurface environment. Generally, such investigations should identify and locate, both horizontally and vertically, significant soil and rock masses and groundwater conditions present within a given site area and establish the characteristics of the subsurface materials by sampling or in situ testing, or both. The extent of characterization and specific methods used will be determined by the environmental objectives and data quality requirements of the investigation. This guide focuses on field methods for determining site characteristics and collection of samples for further physical and chemical characterization. This guide does not address special considerations required for characterization of karst and fractured rock terrane. In such hydrogeologic settings refer to Quinlan and Guide D5717, (1).
1.2 This guide refers to ASTM standard methods by which soil, rock, vadose zone, and groundwater conditions may be determined. Laboratory testing of soil, rock, and groundwater samples is specified by other ASTM standards which are not specifically discussed in this guide. Laboratory methods for measurement of physical properties relevant to environmental investigations are included in Appendix X1.
1.3 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard.
1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
1.5 This guide offers an organized collection of information or a series of options and does not recommend a specific course of action. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this guide may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word “Standard” in the title of this document means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
C998 Practice for Sampling Surface Soil for Radionuclides
D420 Guide to Site Characterization for Engineering Design and Construction Purposes
D422 Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis of Soils
D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained Fluids
D1140 Test Methods for Amount of Material in Soils Finer than No. 200 (75-m) Sieve
D1452 Practice for Soil Exploration and Sampling by Auger Borings
D1586 Test Method for Penetration Test (SPT) and Split-Barrel Sampling of Soils
D1587 Practice for Thin-Walled Tube Sampling of Soils for Geotechnical Purposes
D2113 Practice for Rock Core Drilling and Sampling of Rock for Site Investigation
D2434 Test Method for Permeability of Granular Soils (Constant Head)
D2487 Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System)
D2488 Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure)
D2922 Test Methods for Density of Soil and Soil-Aggregate in Place by Nuclear Methods (Shallow Depth)
D3404 Guide for Measuring Matric Potential in Vadose Zone Using Tensiometers
D3441 Test Method for Mechanical Cone Penetration Tests of Soil
D3550 Practice for Thick Wall, Ring-Lined, Split Barrel, Drive Sampling of Soils
D4043 Guide for Selection of Aquifer Test Method in Determining Hydraulic Properties by Well Techniques
D4044 Test Method for (Field Procedure) for Instantaneous Change in Head (Slug) Tests for Determining Hydraulic Properties of Aquifers
D4050 Test Method for (Field Procedure) for Withdrawal and Injection Well Tests for Determining Hydraulic Properties of Aquifer Systems
D4104 Test Method (Analytical Procedure) for Determining Transmissivity of Nonleaky Confined Aquifers by Overdamped Well Response to Instantaneous Change in Head (Slug Tests)
D4105 Test Method for (Analytical Procedure) for Determining Transmissivity and Storage Coefficient of Nonleaky Confined Aquifers by the Modified Theis Nonequilibrium Method
D4106 Test Method for (Analytical Procedure) for Determining Transmissivity and Storage Coefficient of Nonleaky Confined Aquifers by the Theis Nonequilibrium Method
D4127 Terminology Used with Ion-Selective Electrodes
D4210 Practice for Intralaboratory Quality Control Procedures and a Discussion on Reporting Low-Level Data
D4220 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Soil Samples
D4448 Guide for Sampling Ground-Water Monitoring Wells
D4547 Guide for Sampling Waste and Soils for Volatile Organic Compounds
D4630 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity and Storage Coefficient of Low-Permeability Rocks by In Situ Measurements Using the Constant Head Injection Test
D4631 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity and Storativity of Low Permeability Rocks by In Situ Measurements Using Pressure Pulse Technique
D4687 Guide for General Planning of Waste Sampling
D4696 Guide for Pore-Liquid Sampling from the Vadose Zone
D4700 Guide for Soil Sampling from the Vadose Zone
D4750 Test Method for Determining Subsurface Liquid Levels in a Borehole or Monitoring Well (Observation Well)
D5079 Practices for Preserving and Transporting Rock Core Samples
D5084 Test Methods for Measurement of Hydraulic Conductivity of Saturated Porous Materials Using a Flexible Wall Permeameter
D5092 Practice for Design and Installation of Ground Water Monitoring Wells
D5093 Test Method for Field Measurement of Infiltration Rate Using Double-Ring Infiltrometer with Sealed-Inner Ring
D5195 Test Method for Density of Soil and Rock In-Place at Depths Below Surface by Nuclear Methods
D5254 Practice for Minimum Set of Data Elements to Identify a Ground-Water Site
D5269 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity of Nonleaky Confined Aquifers by the Theis Recovery Method
D5270 Test Method for Determining Transmissivity and Storage Coefficient of Bounded, Nonleaky, Confined Aquifers
D5314 Guide for Soil Gas Monitoring in the Vadose Zone
D5408 Guide for Set of Data Elements to Describe a Groundwater Site; Part One--Additional Identification Descriptors
D5409 Guide for Set of Data Elements to Describe a Ground-Water Site; Part Two--Physical Descriptors
D5410 Guide for Set of Data Elements to Describe a Ground-Water Site;Part Three--Usage Descriptors
D5447 Guide for Application of a Groundwater Flow Model to a Site-Specific Problem
D5451 Practice for Sampling Using a Trier Sampler
D5717 Guide for Design of Ground-Water Monitoring Systems in Karst and Fractured-Rock Aquifers
E177 Practice for Use of the Terms Precision and Bias in ASTM Test Methods
E1527 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
G57 Test Method for Field Measurement of Soil Resistivity Using the Wenner Four-Electrode Method
conceptual site model; environmental site characterization; exploration; feasibility studies; field investigations; geological investigations; geophysical investigations; ground water; hydrologic investigations; maps; preliminary investigations; reconnaissance surveys; sampling; site characterization; site investigations; soil surveys; subsurface investigations;
ICS Number Code 13.060.10 (Water of natural resources); 13.080.01 (Soil quality in general)
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