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Open-File Report 2011–1050

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

An Evaluation of Traditional and Emerging Remote Sensing Technologies for the Detection of Fugitive Contamination at Selected Superfund Hazardous Waste Sites

By E. Terrence Slonecker and Gary B. Fisher


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This report represents a remote sensing research effort conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the EPA Office of Inspector General. The objective of this investigation was to explore the efficacy of remote sensing as a technology for postclosure monitoring of hazardous waste sites as defined under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (Public Law 96–510, 42 U.S.C. §9601 et seq.), also known as "Superfund."

Five delisted Superfund sites in Maryland and Virginia were imaged with a hyperspectral sensor and visited for collection of soil, water, and spectral samples and inspection of general site conditions.

This report evaluates traditional and hyperspectral imagery and field spectroscopic measurement techniques in the characterization and analysis of fugitive (anthropogenic, uncontrolled) contamination at previously remediated hazardous waste disposal sites.

Posted May 23, 2011

For additional information contact:
Terry Slonecker
U.S. Geological Survey
Office of the Regional Executive,
    Southeast Area
Mail Stop 521
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192–0002
Phone: 703 648–4289
Fax: 703 648–4603

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Slonecker, E.T., and Fisher, G.B., 2011, An evaluation of traditional and emerging remote sensing technologies for the detection of fugitive contamination at selected Superfund hazardous waste sites: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1050, 16 p., available only at


Executive Summary



Remote Sensing of Hazardous Waste

Remote Sensing Data Collection and Analysis

Site Visit and Field Sampling

Analysis and Quality Control

Criteria for Elevated Metal Concentrations

Results of Analysis

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

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