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Application of stable isotope ratio analysis for biodegradation monitoring in groundwater

June 1, 2013

Stable isotope ratio analysis is increasingly being applied as a tool to detect, understand, and quantify biodegradation of organic and inorganic contaminants in groundwater. An important feature of this approach is that it allows degradative losses of contaminants to be distinguished from those caused by non-destructive processes such as dilution, dispersion, and sorption. Recent advances in analytical techniques, and new approaches for interpreting stable isotope data, have expanded the utility of this method while also exposing complications and ambiguities that must be considered in data interpretations. Isotopic analyses of multiple elements in a compound, and multiple compounds in the environment, are being used to distinguish biodegradative pathways by their characteristic isotope effects. Numerical models of contaminant transport, degradation pathways, and isotopic composition are improving quantitative estimates of in situ contaminant degradation rates under realistic environmental conditions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Application of stable isotope ratio analysis for biodegradation monitoring in groundwater
DOI 10.1016/j.copbio.2012.11.010
Authors Paul B. Hatzinger, John K. Böhlke, Neil C. Sturchio
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Series Number
Index ID 70187114
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Eastern Branch