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Ground Water. 2012 Nov-Dec;50(6):908-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2012.00916.x. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Assessing TCE source bioremediation by geostatistical analysis of a flux fence.

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School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.


Mass discharge across transect planes is increasingly used as a metric for performance assessment of in situ groundwater remediation systems. Mass discharge estimates using concentrations measured in multilevel transects are often made by assuming a uniform flow field, and uncertainty contributions from spatial concentration and flow field variability are often overlooked. We extend our recently developed geostatistical approach to estimate mass discharge using transect data of concentration and hydraulic conductivity, so accounting for the spatial variability of both datasets. The magnitude and uncertainty of mass discharge were quantified by conditional simulation. An important benefit of the approach is that uncertainty is quantified as an integral part of the mass discharge estimate. We use this approach for performance assessment of a bioremediation experiment of a trichloroethene (TCE) source zone. Analyses of dissolved parent and daughter compounds demonstrated that the engineered bioremediation has elevated the degradation rate of TCE, resulting in a two-thirds reduction in the TCE mass discharge from the source zone. The biologically enhanced dissolution of TCE was not significant (~5%), and was less than expected. However, the discharges of the daughter products cis-1,2, dichloroethene (cDCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) increased, probably because of the rapid transformation of TCE from the source zone to the measurement transect. This suggests that enhancing the biodegradation of cDCE and VC will be crucial to successful engineered bioremediation of TCE source zones.

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