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Geochemical and microbiological methods for evaluating anaerobic processes in an aquifer contaminated by landfill leachate

Environmental Science and Technology

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, , , , , , and
DOI: 10.1021/es991342b

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Abstract

A combined geochemical and microbiological approach was needed to delineate the biogeochemical processes occurring in an aquifer contaminated by landfill leachate in Norman, OK, where the important microbially mediated reactions in an anoxic plume were iron reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenesis. The highest rates of sulfate reduction (13.2 ??M/day) were detected near the water table where sulfate levels were maximal (up to 4.6 mM). The enrichment of 34S in the sulfate pools (??34S of SO42- was 67-69%0), and dissolved hydrogen measurements provided additional support for the importance of sulfate reduction near the water table. Methane was detected in the center of the plume where sulfate was depleted. Microbial incubations demonstrated concomitant sulfate reduction and methanogenesis in the anoxic portion of the plume. Although high concentrations of soluble reduced iron were detected throughout the aquifer and H2 levels were indicative of iron reduction under steady-state conditions, microbiological experiments showed that iron reduction was active only at the edges of the sulfate-depleted portion of the plume. This study demonstrates the benefits of using a combined geochemical and microbiological approach to elucidate the spatial distribution of biogeochemical processes in contaminated aquifers.A combined geochemical and microbiological approach was needed to delineate the biogeochemical processes occurring in an aquifer contaminated by landfill leachate in Norman, OK, where the important microbially mediated reactions in an anoxic plume were iron reduction, sulfate reduction, and methanogenesis. The highest rates of sulfate reduction (13.2 ??M/day) were detected near the water table where sulfate levels were maximal (up to 4.6 mM). The enrichment of 34S in the sulfate pools (??34S of SO42- was 67-69 per mil), and dissolved hydrogen measurements provided additional support for the importance of sulfate reduction near the water table. Methane was detected in the center of the plume where sulfate was depleted. Microbial incubations demonstrated concomitant sulfate reduction and methanogenesis in the anoxic portion of the plume. Although high concentrations of soluble reduced iron were detected throughout the aquifer and H2 levels were indicative of iron reduction under steady-state conditions, microbiological experiments showed that iron reduction was active only at the edges of the sulfate-depleted portion of the plume. This study demonstrates the benefits of using a combined geochemical and microbiological approach to elucidate the spatial distribution of biogeochemical processes in contaminated aquifers.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Geochemical and microbiological methods for evaluating anaerobic processes in an aquifer contaminated by landfill leachate
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es991342b
Volume
34
Issue:
18
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
First page:
4025
Last page:
4033