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Lessons Learned from Bacterial Transport Research at the South Oyster Site


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, P.O. Box 999, MS K9-36, Richland WA 99352; (509) 372-6065; fax: (509) 372-6089;


This paper provides a review of bacterial transport experiments conducted by a multiinvestigator, multiinstitution, multidisciplinary team of researchers under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The experiments were conducted during the time period 1999–2001 at a field site near the town of Oyster, Virginia known as the South Oyster Site, and included four major experimental campaigns aimed at understanding and quantifying bacterial transport in the subsurface environment. Several key elements of the research are discussed here: (1) quantification of bacterial transport in physically, chemically, and biologically heterogeneous aquifers, (2) evaluation of the efficacy of conventional colloid filtration theory, (3) scale effects in bacterial transport, (4) development of new methods for microbial enumeration and screening for low adhesion strains, (5) application of novel hydrogeophysical techniques for aquifer characterization, and (6) experiences regarding management of a large field research effort. Lessons learned are summarized in each of these areas. The body of literature resulting from South Oyster Site research has been widely cited and continues to influence research into the controls exerted by aquifer heterogeneity on reactive transport (including microbial transport). It also served as a model (and provided valuable experience) for subsequent and ongoing highly-instrumented field research efforts conducted by DOE-sponsored investigators.