SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1990

Methods for Sampling Fluids in the Vadose Zone


This paper reviews available methods for sampling water-borne pollutants in the vadose zone. The “standard” method for sampling pore fluids in the vadose zone is core sampling of vadose zone solids, followed by extraction of pore fluids. The preferred method for solids sampling is the hollow-stem auger with core samplers. Core sampling does not lend itself to sampling the same location time and again. Membrane filter samplers and porous suction samplers are an alternative approach for sampling fluids in both saturated and unsaturated regions of the vadose zone. There are three basic porous suction sampler designs: (1) vacuum-operated suction samplers, (2) pressure-vacuum lysimeters, and (3) high-pressurevacuum samplers.

Suction samplers are constructed mainly of ceramic and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The effective range of ceramic cups is 0 to 60 cbar of suction. The operating range of PTFE cups installed with silica flour is 0 to 7 cbar of suction. This paper reviews a method for extending the sampling range of suction samplers using an injection-recovery procedure. Factors affecting the operation of porous suction samplers include the physical properties of the vadose zone, hydraulic conditions, cup-wastewater interactions, and climatic conditions. Innovative procedures include the water extractor and the filter-tip system sampler. The free-drainage samplers include pans, blocks, and wick-type samplers. Techniques for sampling from perched ground-water zones include profile samplers, sampling from cascading wells, and sampling from dedicated wells.

Author Information

Wilson, LG
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 7–24
DOI: 10.1520/STP23393S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5117-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1275-9