COMPARISON OF VENTED AND ABSOLUTE PRESSURE TRANSDUCERS FOR WATER-LEVEL MONITORING IN HANFORD SITE CENTRAL PLATEAU WELLS

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Automated water-level data collected using vented pressure transducers deployed in Hanford Site Central Plateau wells commonly display more variability than manual tape measurements in response to barometric pressure fluctuations. To explain this difference, it was hypothesized that vented pressure transducers installed in some wells are subject to barometric pressure effects that reduce water-level measurement accuracy. Vented pressure transducers use a vent tube, which is open to the atmosphere at land surface, to supply air pressure to the transducer housing for barometric compensation so the transducer measurements will represent only the water pressure. When using vented transducers, the assumption is made ... continued below

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JP, MCDONALD September 8, 2011.

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  • Hanford Site (Wash.)
    Publisher Info: Hanford Site (HNF), Richland, WA (United States))
    Place of Publication: Richland, Washington

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Automated water-level data collected using vented pressure transducers deployed in Hanford Site Central Plateau wells commonly display more variability than manual tape measurements in response to barometric pressure fluctuations. To explain this difference, it was hypothesized that vented pressure transducers installed in some wells are subject to barometric pressure effects that reduce water-level measurement accuracy. Vented pressure transducers use a vent tube, which is open to the atmosphere at land surface, to supply air pressure to the transducer housing for barometric compensation so the transducer measurements will represent only the water pressure. When using vented transducers, the assumption is made that the air pressure between land surface and the well bore is in equilibrium. By comparison, absolute pressure transducers directly measure the air pressure within the wellbore. Barometric compensation is achieved by subtracting the well bore air pressure measurement from the total pressure measured by a second transducer submerged in the water. Thus, no assumption of air pressure equilibrium is needed. In this study, water-level measurements were collected from the same Central Plateau wells using both vented and absolute pressure transducers to evaluate the different methods of barometric compensation. Manual tape measurements were also collected to evaluate the transducers. Measurements collected during this study demonstrated that the vented pressure transducers over-responded to barometric pressure fluctuations due to a pressure disequilibrium between the air within the wellbores and the atmosphere at land surface. The disequilibrium is thought to be caused by the relatively long time required for barometric pressure changes to equilibrate between land surface and the deep vadose zone and may be exacerbated by the restriction of air flow between the well bore and the atmosphere due to the presence of sample pump landing plates and well caps. The disequilibrium is likely limited to wells screened across the water table (i.e., open to the deep vadose zone) where the depth to water is large or a low-permeability layer occurs in the vadose zone. Such wells are a pathway for air movement between the deep vadose zone and land surface and this sustains the pressure disequilibrium between the well bore and the atmosphere for longer time periods. Barometric over-response was not observed with the absolute pressure transducers because barometric compensation was achieved by directly measuring the air pressure within the well. Users of vented pressure transducers should be aware of the over-response issue in certain Hanford Site wells and ascertain if it will affect the use of the data. Pressure disequilibrium between the well and the atmosphere can be identified by substantial air movement through the wellbore. In wells exhibiting pressure disequilibrium, it is recommended that absolute pressure transducers be used rather than vented transducers for applications that require precise automated determinations of well water-level changes in response to barometric pressure fluctuations.

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  • Report No.: SGW-49700 Rev 0
  • Grant Number: DE-AC06-08RL14788
  • DOI: 10.2172/1028215 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1028215
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc843211

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  • September 8, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • July 25, 2016, 2:50 p.m.

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JP, MCDONALD. COMPARISON OF VENTED AND ABSOLUTE PRESSURE TRANSDUCERS FOR WATER-LEVEL MONITORING IN HANFORD SITE CENTRAL PLATEAU WELLS, report, September 8, 2011; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc843211/: accessed October 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.