Laboratory, field, and digital solute-transport- modeling studies demonstrate that microorganisms indigenous to the shallow ground-water system at Laurel Bay Exchange, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, can degrade petroleum hydrocarbons in gasoline released at the site. Microorganisms in aquifer sediments incubated in the laboratory under aerobic and anaerobic conditions mineralized radiolabeled carbon 14-toluene to 14C-carbon dioxide with first-order rate constants of Kbio = -0.640 per day and Kbio = -0.003 per day, respectively. Digital solute- transport modeling using the numerical code SUTRA revealed that anaerobic biodegradation of benzene occurs with a first-order rate constant near Kbio = -0.00025 per day. Sandy aquifer material beneath Laurel Bay Exchange is characterized by relatively high hydraulic conductivities (Kaq = 8.9 to 17.3 feet per day), average ground-water flow rate of about 60 feet per year, and a relatively uniform hydraulic gradient of 0.004 feet per foot. The sandy aquifer material also has low adsorptive potentials for toluene and benzene (both about Kad = 2.0 x 10-9 cubic feet per milligram), because of the lack of natural organic matter in the aquifer. The combination of this ground-water-flow rate and absence of significant adsorptive capacity in the aquifer permits toluene and benzene concentrations to be detected downgradient from the source area in monitoring wells, even though biodegradation of these compounds has been demonstrated. Solute-transport simulations, however, indicate that toluene and benzene will not reach the Broad River, the nearest point of contact with wildlife or human populations, about 3,600 feet west of the site boundary. These simulations also show that contamination will not be transported to the nearest Marine Corps property line about 2,400 feet south of the site. This is primarily because the source of contaminants has essentially been removed, and the low adsorptive capacity of the aquifer sediments has prevented the occurrence of an adsorbed, continuous source of petroleum hydrocarbons. Therefore, digital simulations of toluene and benzene transport at Laurel Bay Exchange indicate that intrinsic bioremediation could be a successful remediation alternative for prohibiting transport of dissolved toluene and benzene to the Broad River.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Assessment of intrinsic bioremediation of gasoline contamination in the shallow aquifer, Laurel Bay Exchange, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
Earth Science Information Center, Open-File Reports Section [distributor],