Document Detail

Isotopic modelling of the significance of bacterial sulphate reduction for phenol attenuation in a contaminated aquifer.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11820474     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
A Triassic sandstone aquifer polluted with a mixture of phenolic hydrocarbons has been investigated by means of high-resolution groundwater sampling. Samples taken at depth intervals of 1 m have revealed the presence of a diving pollutant plume with a sharply defined upper margin. Concentrations of pollutant phenols exceed 4 g/l in the plume core, rendering it sterile but towards the diluted upper margin evidence for bacterial sulphate reduction (BSR) has been obtained. Groundwaters have been analysed for both delta34S-SO4 and delta18O-SO4. Two reservoirs have been identified with distinct sulphate oxygen isotope ratios. Groundwater sulphate (delta18O-SO4 = 3-5/1000) outside the plume shows a simple linear mixing trend with an isotopically uniform pollutant sulphate reservoir (delta18O-SO4 = 10-12/1000) across the plume margin. The sulphur isotope ratios do not always obey a simple mixing relation, however, at one multilevel borehole, enrichment in 34SO4 at the plume margin is inversely correlated with sulphate concentration. This and the presence of 34S-depleted dissolved sulphide indicate that enrichment in 34SO4 is the result of bacterial sulphate reduction. Delta34S analysis of trace hydrogen sulphide within the plume yielded an isotope enrichment factor (epsilon) of -9.4/1000 for present-day bacterial sulphate reduction. This value agrees with a long-term estimate (-9.9/1000) obtained from a Rayleigh model of the sulphate reduction process. The model was also used to obtain an estimate of the pre-reduction sulphate concentration profile with depth. The difference between this and the present-day profiles then gave a mass balance for sulphate consumption. The organic carbon mineralisation that would account for this sulphate loss is shown to represent only 0.1/1000 of the phenol concentration in this region of the plume. Hence, the contribution of bacterial sulphate reduction to biodegradation has thus far been small. The highest total phenolic concentration (TPC) at which there is sulphur isotope evidence of bacterial sulphate reduction is 2000 mg/l. We suggest that above this concentration, the bactericidal properties of phenol render sulphate-reducing bacteria inactive. Dissolved sulphate trapped in the concentrated plume core will only be utilised by sulphate reducers when toxic phenols in the plume are diluted by dispersion during migration.
M J Spence; S H Bottrell; S F Thornton; D N Lerner
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of contaminant hydrology     Volume:  53     ISSN:  0169-7722     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Contam. Hydrol.     Publication Date:  2001 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2002-01-31     Completed Date:  2002-04-12     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8805644     Medline TA:  J Contam Hydrol     Country:  Netherlands    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  285-304     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Earth Sciences, University of Leeds, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Biodegradation, Environmental
Great Britain
Phenols / analysis*
Refuse Disposal
Sulfates / analysis*
Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria / metabolism*
Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Phenols; 0/Sulfates; 0/Water Pollutants, Chemical

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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