Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface—Bemidji, Minnesota
Aerial view of surface oil contamination from the pipeline rupture at the Bemidji Crude Oil Spill Research Site, Minnesota (circa 1979). Much of the black area was caused by oil spraying from the rupture.
Crude oil from a pipeline rupture in 1979 contaminated a shallow aquifer near Bemidji, Minnesota. After initial cleanup, about 110,000 gallons of crude oil remains in the subsurface. This site thus provides a unique opportunity to study a contaminant plume where the location, amount, and timing of the spill are precisely known. The study focuses on how crude oil spreads in soil vapor and ground water. Models have been developed to describe the controlling physical, chemical, and biological processes. These models can be used to evaluate remedial strategies for oil spills, including intrinsic bioremediation.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists collecting a groundwater sample from a well at the USGS Bemidji Crude-Oil Spill Research Site, Minnesota. The scientists monitored in real time the dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and temperature of the water as the well is pumped so they can know when to collect a representative sample. Photo Credit: Jared Trost, USGS
Project Science Feature Articles
- Molecular-level evidence provided by ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry for oil-derived DOC in groundwater at Bemidji, Minnesota: Islam, A., Ahmed, A., Hur, M., Thorn, K., and Kim, S., 2016, Journal of Hazardous Materials, v. 320, p. 123-132, doi:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.08.018.