Using complex resistivity imaging to infer biogeochemical processes associated with bioremediation of an uranium-contaminated aquifer
Article first published online: 7 JUL 2011
Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences (2005–2012)
Volume 116, Issue G3, September 2011
How to Cite
2011), Using complex resistivity imaging to infer biogeochemical processes associated with bioremediation of an uranium-contaminated aquifer, J. Geophys. Res., 116, G03001, doi:10.1029/2010JG001591., , , , and (
- Issue published online: 7 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 7 JUL 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 MAR 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 9 MAR 2011
- Manuscript Received: 29 OCT 2010
- complex resistivity;
- induced polarization;
 Experiments at the Department of Energy's Integrated Field Research Challenge (IFRC) site near Rifle, Colorado, have demonstrated the ability to remove uranium from groundwater by stimulating the growth and activity of Geobacter species through acetate amendment. Prolonging the activity of these strains in order to optimize uranium bioremediation has prompted the development of minimally invasive and spatially extensive monitoring methods diagnostic of their in situ activity and the end products of their metabolism. Here we demonstrate the use of complex resistivity imaging for monitoring biogeochemical changes accompanying stimulation of indigenous aquifer microorganisms during and after a prolonged period (100+ days) of acetate injection. A thorough raw data statistical analysis of discrepancies between normal and reciprocal measurements and incorporation of a new power law phase-error model in the inversion were used to significantly improve the quality of the resistivity phase images over those obtained during previous monitoring experiments at the Rifle IFRC site. The imaging results reveal spatiotemporal changes in the phase response of aquifer sediments, which correlate with increases in Fe(II) and precipitation of metal sulfides (e.g., FeS) following the iterative stimulation of iron and sulfate-reducing microorganisms. Only modest changes in resistivity magnitude were observed over the monitoring period. The largest phase anomalies (>40 mrad) were observed hundreds of days after halting acetate injection, in conjunction with accumulation of Fe(II) in the presence of residual FeS minerals, reflecting preservation of geochemically reduced conditions in the aquifer, a prerequisite for ensuring the long-term stability of immobilized, redox-sensitive contaminants such as uranium.