When petroleum fuel hydrocarbons are released to the shallow surface they may partition (or separate) into four phases (physical states):

           Vapor Phase
           Residual Phase
           Dissolved Phase
           Free Phase

Lyle G. Bruce, Amoco Corporation,
Ground Water Management Services, 1993

In order to comprehensively assess a petroleum fuel hydrocarbon contaminated site, the three-dimensional subsurface distribution of all four phases must be thoroughly defined through collection, analyses, and interpretation of data from vapor, soil, groundwater, and product media.

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