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  • Iron Oxidation–Reduction Processes in Warming Permafrost Soils and Surface Waters Expose a Seasonally Rusting Arctic Watershed

    Abstract: Landscape-scale changes from climate change in the Arctic affect the soil thermal regime and impact the depth to permafrost in vulnerable tundra watersheds. When top-down thaw of permafrost occurs, oxygen and porewaters infiltrate deeper in the soil column exposing fresh, previously frozen material and altering redox conditions. A gap remains in understanding how redox stratifications in thawing permafrost impact the geochemistry of watersheds in response to climate change and how investigations into redox may be scaled by coupling extensive geophysical mapping techniques. In this study, we collected soils and soil porewaters from three soil pits and surface water samples from an Arctic watershed on the North Slope of Alaska and analyzed for trace metals iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) and Fe oxidation state using bulk and microscale techniques. We also used geophysical mapping and soil thermistors to measure active layer depths across the watershed to relate accelerating permafrost thaw to watershed geochemistry. Overall, evidence showed that Fe and Mn could be useful as geochemical indicators of permafrost thaw and release of Fe(II) from thawing permafrost and further oxidation to Fe(III) could translate to a higher degree of seasonal rusting coinciding with the warming and thawing of near surface-permafrost.
  • Waterborne Geophysical Investigation to Assess Condition of Grouted Foundation: Old River Control Complex – Low Sill Structure, Concordia Parish, Louisiana

    Abstract: The Old River Low Sill Structure (ORLSS) at the Old River Control Complex (ORCC) in Concordia Parish, LA, is a steel pile-founded, gated reinforced-concrete structure that regulates the flow of water into the Atchafalaya River to prevent an avulsion between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya River. A scour hole that formed on the southeast wall of ORLSS during the Mississippi River flood of 1973 was remediated with riprap placement and varied mixtures of self-leveling, highly pumpable grout. Non-invasive waterborne geophysical surveys were used to evaluate the distribution and condition of the grout within the remediated scour area. Highly conductive areas were identified from the surveys that were interpreted to consist mostly of grout. Resistive responses, likely representing mostly riprap and/or sediment, were encountered near the remediated scour area periphery. A complex mixture of materials in the remediated scour area is interpreted by the more gradual transitions in the geophysical response. Survey measurements immediately beneath ORLSS were impeded by the abundance of steel along with the structure itself. The survey results and interpretation provide a better understanding of the subsurface properties of ORLSS.
  • Geophysical Investigation to Assess Condition of Grouted Scour Hole: Old River Control Complex—Low Sill Concordia Parish, Louisiana

    Abstract: Geophysical surveys, both land-based and water-borne, were conducted at the Old River Control Complex‒Low Sill, Concordia Parish, LA. The purpose of the surveys was to assess the condition of the grout within the scour region resulting from the 1973 flood event, including identification of potential voids within the grout. Information from the ground studies will also be used for calibration of subsequent marine geophysical data and used in stability analysis studies. The water-borne survey consisted of towed low frequency (16-80 MHz) ground penetrating radar (GPR), whereas the land-based surveys used electrical resistivity and seismic refraction. The GPR survey was conducted in the Old River Channel on the upstream side of the Low Sill structure. The high electrical conductivity of the water (~50 mS/m) precluded penetration of the GPR signal; thus, no useful data were obtained. The land-based surveys were performed on both northeast and southeast sides of the Low Sill structure. Both resistivity and seismic surveys identify a layered subsurface stratigraphy that corresponds, in general, with available borehole data and constructed geologic profiles. In addition, an anomalous area on the southeast side was identified that warrants future investigation and monitoring.