Field and laboratory studies show that microorganisms indigenous to the ground-water system underlying Tank Farm C, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., degrade petroleum hydrocarbons under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Under aerobic conditions, sediments from the shallow aquifer underlying the site mineralized radiolabeled (14C) toluene to 14CO2 with first-order rate constants of about -0.29 per day. Sediments incubated under anaerobic conditions mineralized radiolabeled toluene more slowly, with first-order rate constants of -0.001 per day. Although anaerobic rates of biodegradation are low, they are significant in the hydrologic and geochemical context of the site. Because of low hydraulic conductivities (1.9-9.1 feet per day) and low hydraulic gradients (about 0.004 feet per feet), ground water flows slowly (approximately 20 feet per year) at this site. Furthermore, aquifer sediments contain organic-rich peat that has a high sorptive capacity. Under these conditions, hydrocarbon contaminants have moved no further than 10 feet downgradient of the jet fuel free product. Digital solute-transport simulations, using the range of model parameters measured at the site, show that dissolved contaminants will be completely degraded before they are discharged from the aquifer into adjacent surface-water bodies. These results show that natural attenuation processes are containing the migration of soluble hydrocarbons, and that intrinsic bioremediation is a potentially effective remedial strategy at this site.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Assessment of intrinsic bioremediation of jet fuel contamination in a shallow aquifer, Beaufort, South Carolina
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section,