Reactive transport modeling of geochemical controls on secondary water quality impacts at a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, MN

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



Anaerobic biodegradation of organic amendments and contaminants in aquifers can trigger secondary water quality impacts that impair groundwater resources. Reactive transport models help elucidate how diverse geochemical reactions control the spatiotemporal evolution of these impacts. Using extensive monitoring data from a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, Minnesota (USA), we implemented a comprehensive model that simulates secondary plumes of depleted dissolved O2 and elevated concentrations of Mn2+, Fe2+, CH4, and Ca2+ over a two-dimensional cross section for 30 years following the spill. The model produces observed changes by representing multiple oil constituents and coupled carbonate and hydroxide chemistry. The model includes reactions with carbonates and Fe and Mn mineral phases, outgassing of CH4 and CO2 gas phases, and sorption of Fe, Mn, and H+. Model results demonstrate that most of the carbon loss from the oil (70%) occurs through direct outgassing from the oil source zone, greatly limiting the amount of CH4 cycled down-gradient. The vast majority of reduced Fe is strongly attenuated on sediments, with most (91%) in the sorbed form in the model. Ferrous carbonates constitute a small fraction of the reduced Fe in simulations, but may be important for furthering the reduction of ferric oxides. The combined effect of concomitant redox reactions, sorption, and dissolved CO2 inputs from source-zone degradation successfully reproduced observed pH. The model demonstrates that secondary water quality impacts may depend strongly on organic carbon properties, and impacts may decrease due to sorption and direct outgassing from the source zone.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Reactive transport modeling of geochemical controls on secondary water quality impacts at a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, MN
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1002/2015WR016964
Volume 51
Issue 6
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher AGU Publications
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Western Branch, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 28 p.
First page 4156
Last page 4138
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Bemidji
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table