During 2002 and 2003, bioremediation experiments in the unconfined aquifer of the Old Rifle UMTRA field site in western Colorado provided evidence for the immobilization of hexavalent uranium in groundwater by iron-reducing Geobacter sp. stimulated by acetate amendment. As the bioavailable Fe(III) terminal electron acceptor was depleted in the zone just downgradient of the acetate injection gallery, sulfate-reducing organisms came to dominate the microbial community. In the present study, we use multicomponent reactive transport modeling to analyze data from the 2002 field experiment to identify the dominant transport and biological processes controlling uranium mobility during biostimulation, and determine field-scale parameters for these modeled processes. The coupled process simulation approach was able to establish a quantitative characterization of the principal flow, transport, and reaction processes based on the 2002 field experiment, that could be applied without modification to describe the 2003 field experiment. Insights gained from this analysis include field-scale estimates of the bioavailable Fe(III) mineral threshold for the onset of sulfate reduction, and rates for the Fe(III), U(VI), and sulfate terminal electron accepting processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry
- Water Science and Technology
- Field experiment
- Reactive transport