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
- Crude oil metabolites in groundwater at two spill sites: Bekins, B.A., Cozzarelli, I.M., Erickson, M.L., Steenson, R.A., and Thorn, K.A., 2016, Groundwater, doi:10.1111/gwat.12419 (Advanced Web release).
- Rates of As and trace element mobilization caused by Fe-reduction in mixed BTEX-ethanol experimental plumes: Ziegler, B.A., McGuire, J.T., and Cozzarelli, I.M., 2015, Environmental Science and Technology, v. 49, no. 22, p. 13179-13189, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b02341.
- Comparison of source zone natural attenuation rates at crude oil and ethanol-blended fuel release sites: Sihota, N.J., and Mayer, K.U., 2015, Bioremediation Journal, v. 19, no. 3, p. 218-230, doi:10.1080/10889868.2014.995373.
- Microbial communities associated with zones of elevated magnetic susceptibility in hydrocarbon-contaminated sediments: Beaver, C.L., Williams, A.E., Atekwana, E.A., Mewafy, F.M., Aal, G.A., Slater, L.D., and Rossbach, S., 2015, Geomicrobiology Journal, p. 00-00, doi:10.1080/01490451.2015.1049676.
- Relating subsurface temperature changes to microbial activity at a crude oil-contaminated site: Warren, E., and Bekins, B.A., 2015, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2015.09.007.
- Reactive transport modeling of geochemical controls on secondary water quality impacts at a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, MN: Ng, G.H.C., Bekins, B.A., Cozzarelli, I.M., Baedecker, M.J., Bennett, P.C., Amos, R.T., and Herkelrath, W.N., 2015, Water Resources Research, v. 51, no. 6, p. 4156-4183, doi:10.1002/2015WR016964.
- Organic contaminant transport and fate in the subsurface--Evolution of knowledge and understanding: Essaid, H.I., Bekins, B.A., and Cozzarelli, I.M., 2015, Water Resources Research, v. 51, no. 7, p. 4861-4902, doi:10.1002/2015WR017121.