Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program

Science Features from the Crude Oil Contamination in the Shallow Subsurface Investigation—Bemidji, Minnesota

Highlights of research findings.

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Scientist uses a syringe to withdraw water from a core

Cyclical Mobilization and Attenuation of Naturally Occurring Arsenic in an Underground Petroleum Plume

Scientists found that naturally occurring arsenic in aquifer sediments was mobilized into groundwater and attenuated through reattachment to sediments within an underground petroleum plume. Understanding these patterns identifies anthropogenic factors that affect arsenic presence and magnitude in groundwater. ...

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Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Program Scientist Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's second highest honorary award—the Meritorious Service Award—for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. ...

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

U.S. Geological Survey Identifies Crude-Oil Metabolites in Subsurface Plumes

USGS scientists studying two subsurface crude-oil spill sites in Minnesota measured concentrations of oil breakdown products (metabolites) at greater concentrations than parent compound concentrations. ...

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A scientist collects a groundwater sample with a syringe

Ethanol-Containing Fuel Spills Enhanced Natural Trace Element Release from Sediments in an Experimental Setting

Experimental field research simulating hydrocarbon spills by researchers from the USGS, Virginia Tech, and the University of St. Thomas showed that mixed ethanol and petroleum-based fuels increased the rate by which arsenic and other natural trace elements are released from aquifer sediments to groundwater when compared to petroleum-based fuels alone. ...

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Three scientists holding a sediment core. The core is in a plastic tube

Natural Breakdown of Petroleum Results in Arsenic Mobilization in Groundwater

Changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater promote mobilization of naturally occurring arsenic from aquifer sediments into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant and overlooked arsenic groundwater contamination. Arsenic is ...

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USGS scientists collecting water-qualty samples from observation wells

Pipeline Crude Oil Spill Still a Cleanup Challenge after 30 Years

Research at a 1979 crude oil spill from a ruptured pipeline has exposed and helped to overcome many challenges facing an effective, cost-efficient cleanup of crude oil, USGS scientists have found. The environmental release of crude oil occurred near ...

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A brine pit - pit and berm in foreground - Skiatook Lake, Okla. in background

USGS Science Featured in a Special Issue of Applied Geochemistry on Contamination from Oil Production

USGS studies at the Osage-Skiatook Petroleum Environmental Research (OSPER) Project, Oklahoma are featured in a special issue of Applied Geochemistry on environmental issues related to oil and gas exploration and production ...

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Trench with Unsaturated-Zone Instruments Installed in Trench Wall

Ground-Water Recharge Affects Fate of Petroleum Contaminant Plumes

USGS scientists discover recharge above petroleum contamination plumes affects how plumes grow and degrade in ground water ...

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USGS scientists collecting water-quality samples

Predicting Plume Growth Rates

USGS scientists have developed a new method to predict the rate that benzene might spread in a contaminant plume undergoing natural attenuation ...

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Cover of Chiou, C.T., 2002, Partition and adsorption of organic contaminants in environmental systems

Landmark Book Published on the Fate of Contaminants in the Environment: Partition and Adsorption of Organic Contaminants in Environmental Systems

Dr. Cary Chiou, a researcher with the Toxic Substances Hydrology Program, has published a book entitled Partition and Adsorption of Organic Contaminants in Environmental Systems ...

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