Science Inventory

CONDUCTIVITY PROFILE RATE OF CHANGE FROM FIELD AND LABORATORY DATA WITHIN BIODEGRADING PETROLEUM HYDROCARBON

Citation:

WERKEMA, D. D., E. A. ATCKWANA, AND E. A. ATCKWANA. CONDUCTIVITY PROFILE RATE OF CHANGE FROM FIELD AND LABORATORY DATA WITHIN BIODEGRADING PETROLEUM HYDROCARBON. Presented at Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Environmental and Engineering Problems, Bellevue, WA, April 02 - 06, 2006.

Impact/Purpose:

Research is being conducted to improve and evaluate the resolution of the CR, EM, seismic, and GPR methods over complex geological formations (such as fractured geologies) and to evaluate the capability of these geophysical methods to delineate subsurface organic contaminants.

Description:

We present the results of long term (500 days) measurements of the bulk conductivity in a field and laboratory experiment. Our objective was to determine the rate of change in bulk conductivity and whether this rate of change correlated with the petroleum hydrocarbon degradation. In the field, bulk conductivity was obtained monthly from vertical probes installed at a hydrocarbon contaminates site undergoing biodegradation. In the laboratory, conductivity measurements were made in sand columns simulating the biodegradation of diesel fuel. In general, both the field and laboratory results show increasing bulk conductivity over time from depth zones impacted with petroleum hydrocarbon contamination. The highest increase was observed above the water table where hydrocarbon contamination was in residual and free phase (petroleum smear zone). We fitted the temporal bulk conductivity change in the contaminated sediments and the uncontaminated sediments to an exponential model and then subtracted the two resulting in the bulk conductivity rate of change due to the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons (kdsigma). The highest rate constant, or kdsigma (the slope of the model line), was 0.0061 per day for the field data and 0.0023 per day for the laboratory sand columns. The laboratory data showed a broad conductivity rate increase occurring stratigraphically coincident with the hydrocarbon contamination in the free and residual phase above the saturated zone. The field data showed a general increasing rate of conductivity change within the zone, but also included zones of decreasing change. This is interpreted in part to a dynamic water table and the development of a hydrocarbon smear zone which contains a variable air-water-LNAPL (light non-aqueous phase liquid) mixture. The petroleum hydrocarbon degradation rate of 0.0539 per day was determined for sediments in the saturated zone and 0.107 for sediment in the unsaturated zone. These values are consistent with higher bulk conductivity rates of change in the unsaturated zone except these rates are increasing versus decreasing for the LNAPL concentration rate of change. The bulk conductivity results suggest that the greatest rate of change occurred stratigraphically within hydrocarbon contaminated zones and the magnitude of the rate of change is much less than the magnitude of the hydrocarbon degradation rate. Within the hydrocarbon impacted zone, the kdsigma data reveal an inverse relationship with the hydrocarbon concentration rate of change.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/PAPER)
Product Published Date: 04/02/2006
Record Last Revised: 06/21/2006
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 150763

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION

CHARACTERIZATION & MONITORING BRANCH