Method and system for monitoring and identifying moisture intrusion in soil such as is contained in landfills housing radioactive and/or hazardous waste. The invention utilizes the principle that moist or wet soil has a higher thermal conductance than dry soil. The invention employs optical time delay reflectometry in connection with a distributed temperature sensing system together with heating means in order to identify discrete areas within a volume of soil wherein temperature is lower. According to the invention an optical element and, optionally, a heating element may be included in a cable or other similar structure and arranged in a serpentine fashion within a volume of soil to achieve efficient temperature detection across a large area or three dimensional volume of soil. Remediation, moisture countermeasures, or other responsive action may then be coordinated based on the assumption that cooler regions within a soil volume may signal moisture intrusion where those regions are located.