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U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 20-24, 1993, Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4015

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Method for Monitoring Biodegradation of Hydrocarbons in Unsaturated Porous Media

by

John G. Nolan (Department of Civil Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa.), Ronald J. Baker (U.S. Geological Survey, West Trenton, N.J.), and Arthur L. Baehr (U.S. Geological Survey, West Trenton, N.J.)

Abstract

A method for monitoring reaction rates of reactants and products during biodegradation of hydrocarbons in unsaturated porous media was developed. Stainless-steel bioreactors were filled with porous media that had been collected from a gasoline-spill site and used in biodegradation column studies. The purpose of the bioreactor study was to test the hypothesis that the microbial population in the porous media taken from the columns was at steady-state with respect to biomass production and endogenous respiration. This hypothesis allows hydrocarbon-biodegradation rates to be calculated from carbon dioxide production rates or oxygen consumption rates if mineralization stoichiometry is assumed. Toluene and p-xylene were the hydrocarbons used.

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