Abstract This paper describes analysis of environmental pollutants at depth without bringing sample to the surface. It is based on an improved 3-stage Peltier freeze trap, which efficiently pre-concentrates volatile coal tar and petroleum hydrocarbons, and an integrated system for detecting pollutants on-line, in real-time by photoionization detection and quantitation by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) as the probe is advanced into the subsurface. Findings indicate measurement precision and accuracy for volatiles meet EPA criteria for hazardous waste site investigations. When a Teflon membrane inlet is used to detect contaminants in groundwater, its 140 °C temperature limit restricts analyte collection in soil to C 2-phenanthrenes. Two case studies demonstrate the probe is well-suited to tracking petroleum and coal tar plumes from source to groundwater.