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Long-term evolution of biodegradation and volatilization rates in a crude oil-contaminated aquifer

Bioremediation Journal

By:
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DOI: 10.1080/10889860290777594

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Abstract

Volatilization and subsequent biodegradation near the water Table make up a coupled natural attenuation pathway that results in significant mass loss of hydrocarbons. Rates of biodegradation and volatilization were documented twice 12 years apart at a crude-oil spill site near Bemidji, Minnesota. Biodegradation rates were determined by calibrating a gas transport model to O2, CO2, and CH4 gas-concentration data in the unsaturated zone. Reaction stoichiometry was assumed in converting O2 and CO2 gas-flux estimates to rates of aerobic biodegradation and CH4 gas-flux estimates to rates of methanogenesis. Model results indicate that the coupled pathway has resulted in significant hydrocarbon mass loss at the site, and it was estimated that approximately 10.52 kg/day were lost in 1985 and 1.99 kg/day in 1997. In 1985 3% of total volatile hydrocarbons diffusing from the floating oil were biodegraded in the lower 1 m of the unsaturated zone and increased to 52% by 1997. Rates of hydrocarbon biodegradation above the center of the floating oil were relatively stable from 1985 to 1997, as the primary metabolic pathway shifted from aerobic to methanogenic biodegradation. Model results indicate that in 1997 biodegradation under methanogenenic conditions represented approximately one-half of total hydrocarbon biodegradation in the lower 1 m of the unsaturated zone. Further downgradient, where substrate concentrations have greatly increased, total biodegradation rates increased by greater than an order of magnitude from 0.04 to 0.43 g/m2-day. It appears that volatilization is the primary mechanism for attenuation in early stages of plume evolution, while biodegradation dominates in later stages.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Long-term evolution of biodegradation and volatilization rates in a crude oil-contaminated aquifer
Series title:
Bioremediation Journal
DOI:
10.1080/10889860290777594
Volume:
6
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2002
Language:
English
Publisher:
Taylor and Francis
Publisher location:
Philadelphia, PA
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
Description:
19 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Bioremediation Journal
First page:
237
Last page:
255
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N