Soil gas samples from intact soil cores were collected on adsorbents at a field site, then thermally desorbed and analyzed by laboratory gas chromatography (GC). Vertical concentration profiles of predominant vapor phase petroleum hydrocarbons under ambient conditions were obtained for the zone directly above the capillary fringe. Water and residual phase weathered aviation gasoline were present in this region of the profile.
The sampling, trapping, and GC methodology was effective in most respects. Reproducibility, trapping, and desorption efficiency were generally satisfactory, and different sorbent tubes gave similar results. A minor shortcoming of the method occurred with the most volatile compound, 2,3-dimcthylbutane, which was poorly retained during several weeks of storage lime and was also poorly desorbed.
Vapor phase concentrations of predominant hydrocarbon compounds all increased with depth at one sampling location. At a more highly contaminated location, concentrations of highly volatile compounds increased with depth while concentrations of less volatile compounds remained constant or decreased, possibly indicating distillation effects. Scatier in the data was attributed to heterogeneities in water and residual phase distribution.