Benzene Dynamics and Biodegradation in Alluvial Aquifers Affected by River Fluctuations

Jordi Batlle Aguilar, Barbara Morasch, Daniel Hunkeler, Serge Brouyère

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    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of a benzene plume in an alluvial aquifer strongly affected by river fluctuations was studied. Benzene concentrations, aquifer geochemistry datasets, past river morphology, and benzene degradation rates estimated in situ using stable carbon isotope enrichment were analyzed in concert with aquifer heterogeneity and river fluctuations. Geochemistry data demonstrated that benzene biodegradation was on-going under sulfate reducing conditions. Long-term monitoring of hydraulic heads and characterization of the alluvial aquifer formed the basis of a detailed modeled image of aquifer heterogeneity. Hydraulic conductivity was found to strongly correlate with benzene degradation, indicating that low hydraulic conductivity areas are capable of sustaining benzene anaerobic biodegradation provided the electron acceptor (SO4 2-) does not become rate limiting. Modeling results demonstrated that the groundwater flux direction is reversed on annual basis when the river level rises up to 2m, thereby forcing the infiltration of oxygenated surface water into the aquifer. The mobilization state of metal trace elements such as Zn, Cd, and As present in the aquifer predominantly depended on the strong potential gradient within the plume. However, infiltration of oxygenated water was found to trigger a change from strongly reducing to oxic conditions near the river, causing mobilization of previously immobile metal species and vice versa. MNA appears to be an appropriate remediation strategy in this type of dynamic environment provided that aquifer characterization and targeted monitoring of redox conditions are adequate and electron acceptors remain available until concentrations of toxic compounds reduce to acceptable levels.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)388-398
    Number of pages11
    JournalGroundwater
    Volume52
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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  • Cite this

    Batlle Aguilar, J., Morasch, B., Hunkeler, D., & Brouyère, S. (2014). Benzene Dynamics and Biodegradation in Alluvial Aquifers Affected by River Fluctuations. Groundwater, 52(3), 388-398. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwat.12070