Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface—Bemidji, Minnesota

Aerial view of surface oil contamination from the pipeline rupture at the Bemidji
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.

USGS scientists collecting a water sample from a well at the USGS Bemidji Research Site
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

More Information

New Publications

 

USGS Home Water Climate Change Science Systems Ecosystems Energy and Minerals Environmental Health Hazards

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page URL: http://toxics.usgs.gov/investigations/crude_oil/index.php
Page Content Contact Information: webmaster@toxics.usgs.gov
Page Last Modified: June 17 2016