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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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Shifting of Terminal-Electron-Accepting Processes in a Petroleum-Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Aquifer

by

Don A. Vroblesky (U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia, South Carolina) and Francis H. Chapelle (U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia, South Carolina)

Abstract

Measurements of dissolved hydrogen and other biologically active solutes in ground water from a shallow petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated aquifer indicate that the distribution of microbial terminal electron accepting processes (TEAP's), such as methanogenesis, sulfate reduction, and ferric-iron reduction, is highly dynamic in both time and space. Delivery of sulfate to previously methanogenic zones by infiltrating recharge or lateral transport can result in a TEAP shift from methanogenesis to sulfate reduction. Conversely, lack of recharge and consumption of available sulfate can result in a shift from sulfate reduction to methanogenesis. Temporal shifts between sulfate and ferric-iron reduction were also observed.

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