Publication Date

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




June A. Oberdorfer


ArcGIS, DRASTIC index method, dry cleaners, groundwater vulnerability, Niles Cone Groundwater Basin, Perchloroethylene

Subject Areas

Geology; Hydrologic sciences


Releases of perchloroethylene (PCE) from dry cleaners pose a threat to groundwater quality. An assessment was performed of the Niles Cone Groundwater Basin to determine its vulnerability to PCE contamination from both historic and more recently operating dry cleaners. Sensitivity assessments of the Basin's two subbasins were performed using a modification of the DRASTIC Index Method, whereby the hydrogeological variables of depth to water, aquifer media, vadose zone media, and soil drainage classification were represented by a range of sensitivity categories and ratings assigned to each range. A source assessment was performed by identifying the locations of historic and presently operating dry-cleaning plants and assigning a threat ranking to each based on the approximate years in which the four generations of dry-cleaning machinery were introduced. Using ArcGIS, the sensitivity assessments and the source assessment were mapped, and the source assessment was superimposed over the sensitivity maps to create vulnerability maps of the two subbasins. The most sensitive area of the Below Hayward Fault subbasin in the forebay area near the Hayward Fault is due to a higher proportion of coarse-grained aquifer and vadose zone media and a thinner to absent aquitard due to deposition from the Alameda Creek. The existence of dry cleaners of higher threat makes this an area that is vulnerable to PCE contamination.