Reliability assessment of groundwater monitoring networks at landfill sites

NB Yenigul, JC Gehrels, AMM Elfeki, C van den Akker, AT Hensbergen, FM Dekking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Landfills represent a significant threat to groundwater contamination due to their nature of operation and their abundance. Monitoring well networks at these sites are of vital importance in detecting leakage plumes. This study presents a reliability assessment to estimate the performance of groundwater monitoring systems at landfill sites. A hypothetical problem is presented where the detection probability of several monitoring systems is compared. A Monte¿Carlo approach is used to incorporate uncertainties due to subsurface heterogeneity and the leak location. Hydraulic conductivity and leak location are considered as random variables with prescribed probability density functions. A finite difference groundwater model coupled with a random walk particle-tracking model simulates a contaminant plume released from the landfill for each Monte¿Carlo realization. The analysis shows that lateral dispersivity of the medium has a significant influence on the reliability of the monitoring system, since it is the primary parameter controlling the width of the contaminant plume. Furthermore the number and the location of the monitoring wells are dependent on the heterogeneity of the medium and size of the contaminant leak. It is concluded that the reliability of the common practice of three downgradient monitoring wells is inadequate from the point of view of prevention of groundwater contamination due to landfills. Keywords: Detection probability; Groundwater monitoring; Landfill; Contaminant plume; Monte¿Carlo analysis
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Wiskunde en Informatica
  • Techniek
  • technische Wiskunde en Informatica
  • academic journal papers
  • ZX CWTS 1.00 <= JFIS < 3.00

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