Barbara A Bekins, PhD


I study biodegradation of groundwater contaminants.  Presently I serve as research coordinator of a team studying a 1979 crude oil spill at the USGS study site near Bemidji, Minnesota.  Studies at the site include the fate and bioeffects of oxyhdrocarbons formed during natural attenuation, controls on degradation rates, and use of biogenic heat to estimate degradation rates.  I also study the generation of fluid overpressures and their effect on fault strength including induced seismicity.


University of California, Santa Cruz, Ph.D., 1993, Hydrogeology

San Jose State University, M.S., 1988, Mathematics

University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1975, Mathematics



1990-present:  Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division

Specialty is integrating field and laboratory observations using computer models. Research interests focus on microbial degradation of contaminants in groundwater and the effect of pore fluids on fault strength.

2006-2008      Instructor, Stanford University, Solute Transport in Groundwater

1988-1993:     Researcher and Instructor, University of California, Santa Cruz.

1979-1987:     Computer Specialist, U. S. Geological Survey, Seismology Branch.

Project chief, system administrator and UNIX consultant for computer facilities monitoring earthquakes in real time.

1977-1978:     Research Assistant, Stanford University Geophysics Department.

1976-1977:     Mathematics Lab Director, Canada Community College.

1975-1976:     Scientific Programmer, SRI International.



Member, National Academy of Engineering, 2020

AGU Fellow, 2019

GSA Fellow, 2005

GSA Hydrogeology Division Birdsall-Dreiss Lecturer, 2003-2004

U.S. Geological Survey Meritorious Service Award, 2004

JOI/USSAC Distinguished Lecturer, 2002-2003

ARCS Foundation Fellowship, 1989-1990

University of California Regents’ Fellowship, 1988-1989

B.A. Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa



Exp. 366, Mariana Serpentine Mud Volcanoes, 12/16-2/17, Downhole Tools and Phys. Props.

Science Planning Committee, 2004-2007.

Leg 201, Peru Deep Biosphere, 1/02-4/02, Downhole Tools and Phys. Props.

U.S. Science Advisory Committee, 2000-2003.

Science Steering and Evaluation Panel, Earth's Environment, 1997-2000.

Leg 171A, Logging While Drilling, 12/96-1/97, Hydrologist.

Sedimentary and Geochemical Processes Panel, 1994-1996.



AGU Groundwater Technical Committee, Chair 2009-2010

National Research Council Panel on Intrinsic Remediation, 1997-2000.

Editorial Search Committee, Water Resources Research, 2000.



Geofluids, 2007-2017.

Ground Water, 1998-2003.

Geology, 1995-1998.

Hydrogeology Journal, 1997-2000.


Publications on subsurface microbial processes

Terry, N., F.D. Day-Lewis, J.W.L. Jr., J.J. Trost, and B.A. Bekins. 2019. Geophysical mapping of plume discharge to surface water at a crude oil spill site: Inversion versus machine learning. Geophysics 84 no. 5: EN67-EN80, doi:10.1190/geo2018-0690.1.

Zito, P., R. Ghannam, B.A. Bekins, and D.C. Podgorski, 2019, Examining the Extraction Efficiency of Petroleum-Derived Dissolved Organic Matter in Contaminated Groundwater Plumes. Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation 39 no. 4: 25-31, doi:10.1111/gwmr.12349.

Warren, E. and B.A. Bekins, 2018. Relative contributions of microbial and infrastructure heat at a crude oil-contaminated site. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 211:94-103. doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2018.03.011

McGuire, J.T., I.M. Cozzarelli, B.A. Bekins, H. Link, H. and D. Martinovic-Weigelt, 2018. Toxicity assessment of groundwater contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons at a well-characterized, aged, crude oil release site. Environmental Science & Technology, doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b03657.

Podgorski, D.C., P. Zito, J.T. McGuire, D. Martinovic-Weigelt, I.M. Cozzarelli, B.A. Bekins, and R.G.M. Spencer, 2018. Examining Natural Attenuation and Acute Toxicity of Petroleum-Derived Dissolved Organic Matter with Optical Spectroscopy. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(11), 6157-6166, doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b00016.

Baedecker, M.J., R.P. Eganhouse, H. Qi, I.M. Cozzarelli, J.J. Trost, and B.A. Bekins. 2018. Weathering of Oil in a Surficial Aquifer. Groundwater. 56(5):797-809, doi:10.1111/gwat.12619.

Bekins, B.A., 2018, Case Studies in Groundwater Contaminant Fate and Transport, Oxford Bibliographies, doi:10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0096.

Trost, J.J., T.M. Christy, and B.A. Bekins, 2018. A Direct-Push Freezing Core Barrel for Sampling Unconsolidated Subsurface Sediments and Adjacent Pore Fluids. Vadose Zone Journal, 17(1), doi:10.2136/vzj2018.02.0037.

Lund, A.L., L.D. Slater, E.A. Atekwana, D. Ntarlagiannis, I.M. Cozzarelli, and B.A. Bekins, 2017, Evidence of Coupled Carbon and Iron Cycling at a Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Site from Time Lapse Magnetic Susceptibility. Environmental Science & Technology 51(19), 11244-11249, doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b02155.

Heenan, J. W., D. Ntarlagiannis, L. D. Slater, C. L. Beaver, S. Rossbach, A. Revil, E. A. Atekwana and B. Bekins, 2017, Field-scale observations of a transient geobattery resulting from natural attenuation of a crude oil spill. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 122(4): 918-929, doi:10.1002/2016JG003596.

Bekins, B.A., I.M. Cozzarelli , M. L. Erickson, R. A. Steenson, K. A. Thorn, Crude oil metabolites in groundwater at two spill sites, 2016, Groundwater 54:5, 681-691, doi:10.1111/gwat.12419.

Sihota, N.J., J.J Trost, B.A. Bekins, A. Berg, G.N. Delin, B. Mason, E. Warren, and K.U. Mayer, 2016, Seasonal variability in vadose zone biodegradation at a crude oil pipeline rupture site: Vadose Zone Journal, v. 15, no. 5, doi:10.2136/vzj2015.09.0125

Warren, E., and B.A. Bekins, 2015, Relating subsurface temperature changes to microbial activity at a crude oil-contaminated site. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 182: 183-193, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2015.09.007.

Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, I.M. Cozzarelli, 2015, Organic contaminant transport and fate in the subsurface: Evolution of knowledge and understanding, Water Resources Research, Water Resour. Res., 51: 4861-4902, doi:10.1002/2015WR017121.  

Ng, G.-H.C., B.A. Bekins, I.M. Cozzarelli, M.J. Baedecker, P.C. Bennett, R.T. Amos, and W.N. Herkelrath, 2015, Reactive transport modeling of geochemical controls on secondary water quality impacts at a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, MN, Water Resour. Res., 51:4156–4183, doi:10.1002/2015WR016964. 

Warren, E., N. Sihota, F.D. Hostettler, B. A. Bekins, 2014, Comparison of Surficial CO2 Efflux to other Measures of Subsurface Crude Oil Degradation, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 164:275–284, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.06.006.

Ng, G.-H. C., B. A. Bekins, I. M. Cozzarelli, M. J. Baedecker, P. C. Bennett, and R. T. Amos, 2014, A Mass Balance Approach to Investigating Geochemical Controls on Secondary Water Quality Impacts at a Crude Oil Spill Site near Bemidji, MN, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 164:1-15, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.04.006.

Green, C. T., B. A. Bekins, S. J. Kalkhoff, R. M. Hirsch, L. Liao, and K. K. Barnes, 2014, Decadal surface water quality trends under variable climate, land use, and hydrogeochemical setting in Iowa, USA, Water Resour. Res., 50:, 2425-2443, doi:10.1002/2013WR014829.

Hostettler, F. D. , T. D. Lorenson, and B. A. Bekins, 2013, Petroleum fingerprinting with organic markers, Environmental Forensics, 14:262-277, doi:10.1080/15275922.2013.843611

Rasa, E., B. A. Bekins, D. M. Mackay, N. R. de Sieyes, J. T. Wilson, K. P. Feris, I. A. Wood, K. M. Scow, 2013, Impacts of an ethanol-blended fuel release on groundwater and fate of produced methane: Simulation of field observations, Water Resources Research, 8:4907-4926, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20382.

Amos, R. T., B. A. Bekins, I. M. Cozzarelli, M. A. Voytek, J. D. Kirshtein, E. J. P. Jones and D. W. Blowes, 2012, Evidence for iron-mediated anaerobic methane oxidation in a crude oil-contaminated aquifer, Geobiology, 6:506-517, doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2012.00341.x

Liao, L., C.T. Green, B.A. Bekins and J.K. Böhlke, 2012, Factors controlling nitrate fluxes in groundwater in agricultural areas, Water Resources Research, v. 48, doi:10.1029/2011WR011008.

Rasa, E, S.W. Chapman, SW, B.A. Bekins, G.E. Fogg, K.M. Scow, and D.M. Mackay, 2011, Role of back diffusion and biodegradation reactions in sustaining an MTBE/TBA plume in alluvial media, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology,v. 126:3-4 , pp. 235-247, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.08.006.

Baedecker, M.J., R. P. Eganhouse, B.A. Bekins, and G.N. Delin, 2011, Loss of Volatile Hydrocarbons from an LNAPL Oil Source, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.06.006.

Amos, R. T., B.A. Bekins, G. N. Delin, I. M. Cozzarelli, D. W. Blowes, and J. D. Kirshtein, 2011, Methane oxidation in a crude oil contaminated aquifer: Delineation of aerobic reactions at the plume fringes, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.04.003.

Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, W.N. Herkelrath, and G.N. Delin, 2011, Crude Oil at the Bemidji Site: 25 Years of Monitoring, Modeling, and Understanding, Ground Water, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6584.2009.00654.x.

Bekins, B.A., M.J. Baedecker, R.P. Eganhouse, and W. N. Herkelrath, 2011, Long-term natural attenuation of crude oil in the subsurface, in GQ10: Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World (Proc. 7th International Groundwater Quality Conference held in Zurich, Switzerland, 13–18 June 2010, E. Hoehn and M. Schirmer, eds.), IAHS Publ. 342, 123-127. 

Green, C.T., J.K. Böhlke, B.A. Bekins, and S.P. Phillips, 2010, Mixing effects on apparent reaction rates and isotope fractionation during denitrification in a heterogeneous aquifer: Water Resources Research, v. 46, W08525, doi:10.1029/2009WR008903.

Molins, S., K.U. Mayer, R.T. Amos, B.A. Bekins, 2010, Vadose Zone Attenuation of Organic Compounds at a Crude Oil Spill Site - Interactions between Biogeochemical Reactions and Multicomponent Gas Transport, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 112, 15–29, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2009.09.002.

Cozzarelli, I.M., B.A. Bekins, R.P. Eganhouse, E. Warren, and H.I. Essaid, 2010, In situ measurements of volatile aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation rates in groundwater, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 111, p.48–64.

Aiello, I.W. and B.A. Bekins, 2010. Milankovitch-scale correlations between deeply buried microbial populations and blogenic ooze lithology. Geology, 38(1): 79-82.

Green, C.T., L.H. Fisher, and B.A. Bekins, 2008, Nitrogen fluxes through unsaturated zones in five agricultural settings across the United States: Journal of Environmental Quality, v. 37, p. 1073-1085. 

Green, C.T., L.J. Puckett, J.K. Böhlke, B.A. Bekins, S.P. Phillips, L.J. Kauffman, J.M. Denver, and H.M. Johnson, 2008, Limited occurrence of denitrification in four shallow aquifers in agricultural areas of the United States: Journal of Environmental Quality, v. 37, p. 994-1009. 

Hostettler, F., B.A. Bekins, C. Rostad, W. Herkelrath, 2008, Response to Commentary on Observed Methanogenic Biodegradation Progressions: Environmental Forensics, v. 9, p. 121–126.

Hostettler, F.D., Y. Wang, Y. Huang, W. Cao, B.A. Bekins, C.E. Rostad, C.F. Kulpa, and A. Laursen, 2007, Forensic fingerprinting of oil-spill hydrocarbons in a methanogenic environment--Mandan, ND and Bemidji, MN: Environmental Forensics, v. 8, p. 139-153.

Bekins, B.A., I. M. Cozzarelli, and G. P. Curtis, 2005, A simple method for calculating growth rates of petroleum hydrocarbon plumes, Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, 817-826.

Green, C.T., D.A. Stonestrom, B.A. Bekins, K.C. Akstin. 2005. Recharge and transport processes in a sandy soil in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Water Resources Research. 41(10) W10414 doi:10.1029/2005WR004061.

Bekins, B.A., F.D. Hostettler, W.N. Herkelrath, G.N. Delin, E. Warren, and H.I. Essaid, 2005, Progression of methanogenic degradation of crude oil in the subsurface, Environmental Geosciences, 12(2):139-152.

Amos, R.T., K.U. Mayer, B.A. Bekins, G.N. Delin, and R.L. Williams, 2005, Use of dissolved and vapor-phase gases to investigate methanogenic degradation of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in the subsurface, Water Resources Research, 41, doi:10.1029/2004WR003433.

Rittmann, B.E., F. Kremer, and B.A. Bekins, 2004, MNA Forum: A panel discussion, Remediation Journal, 14(2):155-160.

Warren, E., B.A. Bekins, E.M. Godsy, and V. Smith, 2003, Inhibition of acetoclastic methanogenesis in crude oil- and creosote-contaminated groundwater, Bioremediation Journal, 7(3-4), 139-149.

Essaid, H.I., I.M. Cozzarelli, R.P. Eganhouse, W.N. Herkelrath, B.A. Bekins and G. Delin, 2003, Inverse modeling of BTEX dissolution and biodegradation at the Bemidji, MN crude-oil spill site, J. Contam. Hydrol., 67:269-299.

Bekins, B.A., I.M. Cozzarelli, E. Warren, E. M. Godsy, 2002, Microbial ecology of a crude-oil contaminated aquifer, in Groundwater Quality: Natural and Enhanced Restoration of Groundwater Pollution, S.F. Thornton and S. E. Oswald (eds.), International Association of Hydrological Sciences Publication 275, 57-63.

Bekins, B.A., I.M. Cozzarelli, E.M. Godsy, E. Warren, H.I. Essaid, and M.E. Tuccillo, 2001, Progression of natural attenuation processes at a crude oil spill site II. Controls on spatial distribution of microbial populations, J. Contam. Hydrol., 53:387-406.

Cozzarelli, I.M., B.A. Bekins, M.J. Baedecker, G.R. Aiken, and R.P. Eganhouse, and M.E. Tuccillo, 2001, Progression of natural attenuation processes at a crude-oil spill site I. Geochemical evolution of the plume, J. Contam. Hydrol., 53: 369-385.

Bekins, B.A., B.E. Rittmann, J.A. MacDonald, 2001, Natural attenuation strategy for groundwater cleanup focuses on demonstrating cause and effect, Eos, Transactions, AGU, January 30, 2001, 82, 5, pp. 53, 57-58.

National Research Council, 2000, Natural Attenuation for Groundwater Remediation, National Academy Press, 274 pp.

Haack, S.K. and B.A. Bekins, 2000, Microbial populations in contaminant plumes, Hydrogeology Journal, 8: 63-76.

Bekins, B.A., E.M. Godsy, and E. Warren, 1999, Distribution of microbial physiologic types in an aquifer contaminated by crude oil, Microbial Ecology. 37:263-275.

Bekins, B.A., Ean Warren, and E.M. Godsy, 1998, A comparison of zero-order, first-order, and Monod biotransformation models, Ground Water. 36:261-268.

Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, E.M. Godsy, Ean Warren, M.J. Baedecker, and I.M. Cozzarelli, 1995, Simulation of aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation processes at a crude-oil spill site. Water Resources Research, 31:3309-3327.

Bekins, B.A., E.M. Godsy, and D.F. Goerlitz, 1993, Modeling steady-state methanogenic degradation of phenols in ground water. J. Contam. Hydrol.. 14: 279-294.


Publications on fluids and geologic processes

Weingarten, M., S. Ge, J. W. Godt, B. A. Bekins, J. L. Rubinstein, 2015, High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity, Science Vol. 348  no. 6241  pp. 1336-1340,  doi: 10.1126/science.aab1345. 

McGarr, A., B. Bekins ,N. Burkardt, J. Dewey ,P. Earle, W. Ellsworth ,S. Ge, S. Hickman, A. Holland, E. Majer, J. Rubinstein,  A. Sheehan, 2015, Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection, Science, Vol. 347, no. 6224, pp. 830-831, doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0494.

Keranen, K. M., M. Weingarten, G. A. Abers, B. A. Bekins, S. Ge, 2014, Sharp increase in central Oklahoma seismicity since 2008 induced by massive wastewater injection, Science, 25 July 2014: Vol. 345  no. 6195,  pp. 448-451, doi: 10.1126/science.1255802.

Bekins, B.A., 2012, Book Review, Earthquakes and Water, by Wang, C.-Y. and Manga, M., Geofluids, 12:261-263, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-8123.2012.00366.x.

Bekins, B.A., Matmon, D., Screaton, E.J. and Brown, K.M., 2011, Reanalysis of in situ permeability measurements in the Barbados décollement. Geofluids, 11(1): 57-70, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-8123.2010.00310.x.

Gamage, K., E. J. Screaton, B.A. Bekins, I. W. Aiello, 2010, Permeability-porosity relations of subduction zone sediments, Marine Geology, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2010.10.010.

Fulton, P.M., D.M. Saffer, B.A. Bekins, 2009, A critical evaluation of crustal dehydration as the cause of an overpressured and weak San Andreas Fault, Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 284, 447–454, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2009.05.009.

Bekins, B.A. and E.J. Screaton, 2007, Pore pressure and fluid flow in the Northern Barbados Accretionary Complex: A synthesis, in "The Seismogenic Zone of Subduction Thrust Faults”, MARGINS Theoretical and Experimental Earth Science Series, v. 2, T. Dixon and J. C. Moore Editors. Columbia University Press, p. 148–170.

Bekins, B.A., A.J. Spivack, E.E. Davis, L.A. Mayer, 2007, Dissolution of biogenic ooze over basement edifices in the equatorial Pacific with implications for hydrothermal ventilation of the oceanic crust, Geology, v. 35; no. 8; p. 679–682.

Matmon, D., and B.A. Bekins, 2006, Hydromechanics of a high taper angle, low-permeability prism: A case study from Peru, J. Geophys. Res., 111, B07101, doi:10.1029/2005JB003697.

Saffer, D. M., and B.A. Bekins, 2006, An evaluation of factors influencing pore pressure in accretionary complexes: Implications for taper angle and wedge mechanics, J. Geophys. Res., 111, B04101, doi:10.1029/2005JB003990.

Fulton, P., D. Saffer, R. Harris, and B.A. Bekins, 2004, Re-evaluation of heat flow data near Parkfield, CA:  Evidence for a weak San Andreas Fault:  Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31, doi:10.1029/2003GL019378.

Saffer, D.M., B.A. Bekins, and S. Hickman, 2003, Topographically driven groundwater flow and the San Andreas heat flow paradox revisited, J. Geophys. Res., 108, 2274, doi:10.1029/2002JB001849.

Ge, S., B.A. Bekins, J.Bredehoeft, K. Brown, E.E. Davis, S.M. Gorelick, P. Henry, H. Kooi, A.F. Moench, C. Ruppel, M. Sauter, E. Screaton, P.K. Swart, T. Tokunaga, C.I. Voss, and F.Whitaker, 2003, Fluid flow in sub-sea floor processes and future ocean drilling, EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 84(16) p.145, 151-152.

Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 2002, Hydrologic controls on the morphology and mechanics of accretionary wedges, Geology, 30:271-274.

Brown, K.B., D.M. Saffer, and B.A. Bekins, 2001, Smectite diagenesis, pore-water freshening, and fluid flow at the toe of the Nankai wedge, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 194:97-109.

Stauffer, P., and B.A. Bekins, 2001, Modeling consolidation and dewatering near the toe of the northern Barbados accretionary complex J. Geophys. Res., 106:6,369-6,383.

Moore, J. C., A. Klaus, N. L. Bangs, B.A. Bekins, et al., 1998, Proc. ODP Init. Repts., 171: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program).

Moore, J.C., A. Klaus, N.L. Bangs, B.A. Bekins, et al., 1998, Consolidation patterns during initiation and evolution of a plate boundary decollement zone: Northern Barbados accretionary prism. Geology, 26:811-814.

Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 1999, Fluid budgets at convergent plate margins: Implications for the extent and duration of fault zone dilation. Geology, 27:1095-1098. 

Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 1998, Episodic fluid flow in the Nankai Accretionary Complex: Timescale, geochemistry, flow rates, and fluid budget. J. Geophys. Res., 103:30,351-30,370.

Bekins, B.A., A.M. McCaffrey, and S.J. Dreiss, 1995, Episodic and constant flow models for the origin of low chloride pore waters in a modern accretionary complex. Water Resources Research, 31:3205-3215.

Bekins, B.A., A.M. McCaffrey, and S.J. Dreiss, 1994, The influence of kinetics on the smectite to illite transition in the Barbados accretionary prism. J. Geophys. Res., 99:18,147-18,158.

Brown, K.M., B.A. Bekins, B. Clennell, D. Dewhurst, and G. Westbrook, 1994, Heterogeneous hydrofracture development and accretionary fault dynamics. Geology, 22:259-262. 

Bekins, B.A. and S.J. Dreiss, 1992, A simplified analysis of parameters controlling dewatering in accretionary prisms. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 109:275-287.