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.
|Title||Application of stable isotope ratio analysis for biodegradation monitoring in groundwater|
|Authors||Paul B. Hatzinger, John K. Böhlke, Neil C. Sturchio|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Current Opinion in Biotechnology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Research Program - Eastern Branch|