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The effect of redox conditions on the efficiency of chlorinated ethene biodegradation was investigated at two field sites. One site (NAS Cecil Field, FL) is characterized by predominantly Fe(III)-reducing conditions in the contaminant source area, grading to predominantly sulfate- reducing conditions downgradient. This sequence of redox conditions led to relatively inefficient biodegradation of chlorinated ethenes, with high concentrations of trichloroethene extending more than 400 meters downgradient of the source area. In contrast, a second site (NBS Kings Bay, GA) characterized by predominantly sulfate-reducing conditions in the source area followed by Fe(III)-reducing conditions downgradient. In this system perchloroethene (PCE) and TCE were rapidly biodegraded and extended less than 100 meters downgradient. Rates of ground- water transport are similar at the two sites (???0.2 m/d) indicating that the succession of redox processes, rather than other hydrologic factors, is the principal control on biodegradation. In particular, redox conditions that favor the initial reduction of highly chlorinated ethenes (methanogenic or sulfate-reducing conditions) followed by more oxidizing conditions (Fe(III)- reducing or oxic conditions) favors efficient biodegradation. Thus, documenting the succession of redox processes is an important step in understanding the efficiency of chlorinated ethene biodegradation in ground-water systems.
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Redox conditions and the efficiency of chlorinated ethene biodegradation: Field studies