Ferrographic tracking of bacterial transport in the field at the narrow channel focus area, Oyster, VA

W. P. Johnson, P. Zhang, M. E. Fuller, T. D. Scheibe, B. J. Mailloux, Tullis C. Onstott, M. F. Deflaun, S. S. Hubbard, J. Radtke, W. P. Kovacik, W. Holben

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43 Scopus citations


The first results from an innovative bacterial tracking technique, ferrographic capture, applied to bacterial transport in groundwater are reported in this paper. Ferrographic capture was used to analyze samples during an October 1999 bacterial injection experiment at the Narrow Channel focus area of the South Oyster site, VA. Data obtained using this method showed that the timing of bacterial breakthrough was controlled by physical (hydraulic conductivity) heterogeneity in the vertical dimension as opposed to variation in sediment surface or aqueous chemical properties. Ferrographic tracking yielded results that compared well with results from other tracking techniques over a concentration range of 8 orders of magnitude and provided a low detection limit relative to most other bacterial tracking techniques. The low quantitation limit of this method (∼20 cells/mL) allowed observation of transport of an adhesion-deficient bacterium over distances greater than 20 m in the fine sand aquifer underlying this site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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