Barometric pumping effects on soil gas studies for geological and environmental characterization

D. E. Wyatt, D. M. Richers, R. J. Pirkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Data from two free soil gas sampling programs are evaluated for the effects of barometric pumping over time on measured soil gas volumes. One program collected data from the trapped atmosphere immediately above two hazardous waste landfill areas. Of these areas, one had extremely high soil gas emanations, whereas the other had a more modest soil gas release. The second experimental program involved the collection of free soil gas samples on a rough grid with an approximate spacing of 1.6 km over a 720-sq-km area. This reconnaissance effort was designed to establish regional soil gas background values and to establish the utility of this method as a geological mapping tool in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Methane, ethane, propane, and hydrogen data are used for this study. The data suggest that there is a predictable change in soil gas volume with a given change in barometric pressure. The rate of change is greater with large soil gas volumes in permeable soils versus lower soil gas volumes in impermeable soils; however, a simple linear relationship seems to generate a predictable curve with a margin of error of approximately 50%. Furthermore, the results of this study indicate that barometric pumping effects should be strongly considered during soil gas screening efforts at hazardous waste sites as well as in regional studies for hydrocarbon source potential mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-250
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Geology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Barometric pumping
  • Environmental characterization
  • Soil gas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Soil Science


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