Field-scale observations of a transient geobattery resulting from natural attenuation of a crude oil spill

Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

We present evidence of a geobattery associated with microbial degradation of a mature crude oil spill. Self-potential measurements were collected using a vertical array of nonpolarizing electrodes, starting at the land surface and passing through the smear zone where seasonal water table fluctuations have resulted in the coating of hydrocarbons on the aquifer solids. These passive electrical potential measurements exhibit a dipolar pattern associated with a current source. The anodic and cathodic reactions of this natural battery occur below and above the smear zone, respectively. The smear zone is characterized by high magnetic susceptibility values associated with the precipitation of semiconductive magnetic iron phase minerals as a by-product of biodegradation, facilitating electron transfer between the anode and the cathode. This geobattery response appears to have a transient nature, changing on a monthly scale, probably resulting from chemical and physical changes in subsurface conditions such as water table fluctuations.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Field-scale observations of a transient geobattery resulting from natural attenuation of a crude oil spill
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences
DOI 10.1002/2016JG003596
Volume 122
Issue 4
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher AGU Publications
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Western Branch
Description 12 p.
First page 918
Last page 929