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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Toxics Program Remediation Activities

Quantifying Natural Attenuation at the Plume Scale

Type
  • Natural Attenuation Evaluation
  • Site Characterization
Location Galloway Township, NJ (30 miles northwest of Atlantic City, NJ)
Laurel Bay, SC
Partners
Technology
  • Monitored Natural Attenuation
  • Computer Simulations
Contaminants Hydrocarbons, Gasoline
Description

USGS scientists have developed a method to estimate microbial degradation rates of hydrocarbons at the water table on a sitewide basis. The method is based on the numerical analysis of the rate of transport of biodegradation reaction products (O2 and CO2 gas) away from the water table in the unsaturated zone. The analysis involves simulating the transport of volatile organic compounds and the reaction products using the computer model R-UNSAT. With the use of the R-UNSAT model, sitewide aerobic (with oxygen) degradation rates of hydrocarbons near the water table and the rate of the loss of contaminants from ground water to the unsaturated zone by volatilization can be developed. Both rates are important values for evaluating the feasibility of monitored natural attenuation as the solution for hydrocarbon-spill remediation.

The method was applied at sites in Galloway Township, NJ, and Laurel Bay, SC. In the case of the Galloway Township site, data and the analysis supplied by USGS scientists were instrumental in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's acceptance of monitored natural attenuation as the remediation method for the site. The focus of investigations at the Laurel Bay site has been the natural attenuation of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE).

More Information
Contact Arthur Baehr, USGS, New Jersey Water Science Center, West Trenton, NJ,
Publications
Baehr, A.L., and Baker, R.J., 1995,
Use of a reactive gas-transport model to determine rates of hydrocarbon biodegradation in unsaturated porous media: Water Resources Research, v. 31, no. 11, p. 2877-2882.
Baehr, A.L., and Fischer, J.M., 1996,
Overview of research on the transport, microbial degradation, and remediation of hydrocarbons at a subsurface gasoline-spill site in Galloway Township, New Jersey, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 1-6.
Baker, R.J., and Baehr, A.L., 1996,
Use of column studies and a reactive transport model to measure biodegradation rates of hydrocarbons, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 43-47.
Baker, R.J., Baehr, A.L., and Lahvis, M.A., 2000,
Estimation of hydrocarbon biodegradation rates in gasoline-contaminated sediment from measured respiration rates: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 41, no. 1-2, p. 175-192.
Fischer, J.M., Smith, N.P., and Baehr, A.L., 1996,
Hydrogeology, contaminant distribution, and biodegradation processes at a gasoline-spill research site in Galloway Township, New Jersey, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 7-16.
Joss, C.J., and Baehr, A.L., 1996,
A multispecies transport model to simulate vapor extraction and bioventing remediation of unsaturated zones contaminated with gasoline, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 61-63.
Lahvis, M.A., and Baehr, A.L., 1996,
Estimation of rates of aerobic hydrocarbon biodegradation by simulation of gas transport in the unsaturated zone: Water Resources Research, v. 32, no. 7, p. 2231-2249.
Lahvis, M.A., and Baehr, A.L., 1997,
Documentation of R-UNSAT, A computer model for the simulation of reactive transport in the unsaturated zone: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 97-630, 104 p.
Lahvis, M.A., and Baehr, A.L., 1998,
Simulating transport of volatile organic compounds in the unsaturated zone using the computer model R-UNSAT: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-019-98, 4 p.
Lahvis, M.A., and Baehr, A.L., 1999,
Quantification of aerobic biodegradation and volatilization rates of gasoline hydrocarbons near the water table under natural attenuation conditions: Water Resources Research, v. 35, no. 3, p. 753-765.
Lahvis, M.A., Baehr, A.L., and Fischer, J.M., 1996,
Method for estimating the rate of microbial degradation of hydrocarbons associated with bioventing at a gasoline-spill site in Galloway Township, New Jersey, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 27-34.
Nolan, J.G., Baker, R.J., and Baehr, A.L., 1996,
Method for monitoring biodegradation of hydrocarbons in unsaturated porous media, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Aronson, D.A., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015, v. 1, p. 49-54.
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