D.23 Visual Sampling Plan (VSP) Software

Approximate Cost: Free

Source: http://vsp.pnnl.gov

Current Version: v6.5

Operating System Needs: Windows XP or later

Input Structure: Supports text, manual entry, ESRI file formats (SHP, ASCII grid), DBX formats, or copy and paste from other applications (such as spreadsheets)


The Visual Sampling Plan (VSP) software was developed by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. You can use VSP to develop a groundwater sampling plan that is based on statistical principles. You can use VSP to analyze groundwater sampling results. VSP Version 6.5 provides sample-size equations and algorithms for specific statistical tests that support environmental sampling objectives. VSP can also be used at sites with suspected contamination to support data quality assessment. The program is easy-to-use with graphical user interfaces (Matzke et al. 2010). Some of the statistical algorithms in VSP have undergone a rigorous validation assessment (Nuffer et al. 2009).

Designed for project managers, regulators and technical staff without expertise in statistics, VSP can be used for planning sampling of various media (groundwater, rooms and buildings, surface soil, piles, or water bodies) for studies of environmental quality. It can also be used to sample items such as drums, documents or equipment.

Add-Ins Available


Ease of Use and Data Import

VSP is menu driven software that performs statistical sample design and analysis. Map information can be imported from GIS and data for analyses can be imported from text files or pasted from the clipboard.

Types of Distributions

VSP offers statistical methods based on normally distributed data as well as nonparametricStatistical test that does not depend on knowledge of the distribution of the sampled population (Unified Guidance). methods. In addition the user may apply log-transformations to their data.

Primary Uses for Groundwater Data Analysis

Users only interested in RCRAResource Conservation and Recovery Act applications can select the RCRA Version, which focuses on designs for monitoring and trends. Trends can be evaluated either with or without seasonality based on the Mann-Kendall trend test. VSP also has a module to evaluate redundancy of wells. The well redundancy modules in VSP can identify redundant wells and identify a technically defensible temporal spacing of observations for wells. The redundant well module uses a geospatial analysis based on krigingA weighted moving-average technique to interpolate the data distribution by calculating an area mean at nodes of a grid (Gilbert 1987).. VSP also has a module to help with new well placement to reduce estimation uncertainty. The sampling frequency well evaluation is applied on a well-by-well basis and is based on iterative thinning methods.


Limitations and Data Requirements

The backgroundNatural or baseline groundwater quality at a site that can be characterized by upgradient, historical, or sometimes cross-gradient water quality (Unified Guidance). tests developed for VSP are most applicable to solid media.


Nuffer, LL, NL Hassig, LH Sego, BA Pulsipher, JE Wilson, B Matzke. 2009. Validation of Statistical Sampling Algorithms in Visual Sample Plan (VSP): Summary Report. PNNL-18253. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.

Matzke, B.D., J.E. Wilson, L.L. Nuffer S.T. Dowson, J.E. Hathaway, N.L. Hassig, L.H. Sego, C.J. Murray, B.A. Pulsipher, B. Roberts, S. McKenna. 2010. Visual Sample Plan Version 6.0 User’s Guide. PNNL-19915. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington.

Publication Date: December 2013

Permission is granted to refer to or quote from this publication with the customary acknowledgment of the source (see suggested citation and disclaimer).


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