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Contaminants in Complex Hydrogeologic Settings

Hydrological, Geochemical, and Microbiological Processes that Affect Migration and Natural Attenuation in Heterogeneous Aquifers

Long-Term Field Research at former Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), West Trenton, New Jersey


USGS scientist at a laboratory fume hood preparing experimentsEnhancement of Trichloroethene (TCE) Biodegradation in a Simulated Groundwater System

This laboratory-based study provides information for understanding enhancement of trichloroethene (TCE) biodegradation in a simulated groundwater system. ...

USGS scientists updated research progress through presentations at the SERDP-ESTCP Symposium 2017, November 28-30, 2017, in Washington, DC. Presentations included:

  • Effect of Microbial Community Dynamics on Bioremediation Efficiency of Chlorinated Solvents in a Fractured Rock Aquifer
  • Development of a Packer-Based Tracer-Test Method for Characterization of Processes Controlling Long-Term Fate of Chlorinated Volatile Organic Contaminants in Low-Permeability Zones
  • Modeling Approach used in Evaluating Field Measurements of Diffusion and Sorption Coefficients and Biotic and Abiotic Degradation Rates in Low-Permeability Zones

More information on SERDP research is available here.

USGS scientists updated research progress through presentations at the 2017 National Groundwater Association Conference on Fractured Rock and Groundwater, October 2-3, 2017, in Burlington, Vermont. Project scientists Paul Hsieh and Dan Goode served as Technical Advisors for the conference. Presentations included:

Research at NAWC was also featured by the conference keynote speaker Lee Slater (Rutgers), and in a presentation by Carl Keller (FLUTe Inc.).

Recent Publications

Tiedeman et al. 2017 Bioremediation in Fractured Rock: 1. Modeling to Inform Design, Monitoring, and Expectations: Groundwater article by Tiedeman et al. 2018

Shapiro et al. 2017 Bioremediation in Fractured Rock: 2. Mobilization of Chloroethene Compounds from the Rock Matrix: Groundwater article by Shapiro et al. 2018

Day-Lewis et al. 2017 An overview of Geophysical Technologies appropriate for Characterization and Monitoring at fractured-rock sites: J. Environmental Management article by Day-Lewis et al. 2017

Shapiro et al. 2017 Porosity and pore size distribution in a sedimentary rock: Implications for the distribution of chlorinated solvents: J. Contaminant Hydrology article by Shapiro et al. 2017

Mao et al. 2017 Acetylene Fuels TCE Reductive Dechlorination by Defined Dehalococcoides/Pelobacter Consortia: Environmental Science & Technology article by Mao et al. 2017

UC Berkeley
FLUTe liner A New Rapid Method for Measuring the Vertical Head Profile: Groundwater article by Keller 2016

Geophysical ToolsEPAFractured Rock Geophysical Toolbox Method Selection Tool (FRGT-MST): Groundwater article by Day-Lewis et al. 2016
3D resistivity during transport in fracturesImaging Pathways in Fractured Rock using Three-Dimensional Electrical Resistivity Tomography: Groundwater article by Robinson et al. 2015
Abiotic TCE DegradationAbiotic Dechlorination in Rock Matrices impacted by long-term exposure to TCE: Chemosphere article by Schaefer et al. 2015
Abiotic TCE DegradationDemonstration and Validation of a Fractured Rock Passive Flux Meter: SERDP report by Hatfield 2015
U. of Florida
synthesis of core vocs and logsSynthesis of Rock Core VOCs with Borehole Logging and Hydrogeologic Framework: J. Contaminant Hydrology article by Goode et al. 2014
Carbon isotope changesCarbon Isotopes of VOCs, Microbial Community, and Deuterium Tracer used to Evaluate Bioaugmentation in Fractured Rock: J. Contaminant Hydrology article by Révész et al. 2014
slug testing at NAWCTransmissivity and Storage Coefficient Estimation by Slug Testing: USGS report by Fiore 2014
gene PCR NAWCBiogeochemistry and Genetics of Acetylene Fermentation: Geomicrobiology J. article by Miller et al. 2013
Heating SimulationDNAPL Remediation by Thermal Conductive Heating in Fractured Rock: ESTCP report by Lebrón et al. 2013U.S. Navy
TCE degradation ratesSite-scale TCE Degradation Rates from cisDCE and Chloride Production: Remediation article by Chapelle et al. 2012
SIR 2012-5032 coverVinyl Chloride and cisDCE Degradation under 'Anoxic' Conditions: USGS report by Bradley 2012
Block diagram of shallow rockReductive Dechlorination Requires Threshold Amounts of Organic Carbon: Remediation article by Chapelle et al. 2012
NAWC well locationsBiostimulation and Bioaugmentation Field Experiments show Increased cisDCE Degradation: Remediation article by Bradley et al. 2012
Mass removed by pump & treatContaminant Removal during 15 years of Pump & Treat Remediation: USGS report by Lacombe 2011
Interpreted geophysical cross sectionMapping, Coring, and Surface Geophysics Characterize Geologic Framework: J. Applied Geophysics article by Ellefsen et al. 2012
14C labeled degradation productsDistinct Vinyl Chloride and cisDCE Degradation under Low- and No-Oxygen Conditions: Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation article by Bradley & Chapelle 2011
Cover of GWMRHydrogeologic Framework Developed for Understanding Three-Dimensional Flow in Dipping Fractured Rocks: Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation article by Lacombe & Burton 2010
3D aquifer-test modelMulti-well Shutdown Tests are Effective for Characterizing Fractured Rock: Ground Water article by Tiedeman et al. 2010
Full Bibliography


USGS began studies of contamination in fractured-sedimentary bedrock in cooperation with the U.S. Navy at the former Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), West Trenton, N.J. in 1993.

In 2001, the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program initiated research at the NAWC to complement and expand the research being conducted on groundwater flow and contaminant transport in fractured bedrock at its Mirror Lake, New Hampshire, Research Site. The NAWC site was chosen because the general hydrogeologic framework was well defined and the site contained extensive contamination over a range of geochemical conditions. Site groundwater contains volatile organic compounds (VOC's) that include trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cisDCE), and vinyl chloride.

Our research objectives are improved understanding of the hydrological, geochemical, and microbiological processes that affect the transport and fate of chlorinated solvents in fractured-sedimentary-rock aquifers, including the role of dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL) as a long-term residual source. We are also developing field methods for cost-effective subsurface characterization.

Research at the site is a multidisciplinary, collaborative effort that presently involves scientists from the USGS, U.S. Navy, and several academic and private institutions.

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