Anaerobic biodegradation was conducted in a forested wetland where a plume of trichloroethylene discharges from a sand aquifer through organic-rich wetland and stream-bottom sediments. The rapid response of the wetland hydrology to precipitation events altered groundwater flow and geochemistry during wet conditions in the spring compared to the drier conditions in the summer and fall. During dry conditions, partial reductive dechlorination of trichloroethylene to cis-1,2-dichloroethylene occurred in methanogenic wetland porewater. Influx of oxygenated recharge during wet conditions led to a change from methanogenic to iron-reducing conditions and a lack of 1,2-dichloroethylene production in the wet spring conditions. During these wet conditions, dilution was the primary attenuation mechanism evident for trichloroethylene in the wetland porewater. Trichloroethylene degradation was insignificant in anaerobic microcosms constructed with the shallow wetland sediment. Natural attenuation of chlorinated solvents by anaerobic biodegradation may not be efficient at all wetland sites, despite organic-rich characteristics of the sediment.
Additional publication details
Anaerobic biodegradation and hydrogeochemical controls on natural attenuation of trichloroethene in an inland forested wetland