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Improved interpretations of the strength of the San Andreas Fault near Parkfield, CA based on thermal data require quantification of processes causing significant scatter and uncertainty in existing heat flow data. These effects include topographic refraction, heat advection by topographically-driven groundwater flow, and uncertainty in thermal conductivity. Here, we re-evaluate the heat flow data in this area by correcting for full 3-D terrain effects. We then investigate the potential role of groundwater flow in redistributing fault-generated heat, using numerical models of coupled heat and fluid flow for a wide range of hydrologic scenarios. We find that a large degree of the scatter in the data can be accounted...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigated the natural attenuation of subsurface petroleum hydrocarbons leaked over an unknown number of years from an oil pipeline under the Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership South Cass Lake Pumping Station, in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Three weeks of field work conducted between May 2007 and July 2008 delineated a dissolved plume of aromatic hydrocarbons and characterized the biodegradation processes of the petroleum. Field activities included installing monitoring wells, collecting sediment cores, sampling water from wells, and measuring water-table elevations. Geochemical measurements included concentrations of constituents in both spilled and pipeline oil, dissolved alkylbenzenes...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigated the natural attenuation of subsurface petroleum hydrocarbons leaked over an unknown number of years from an oil pipeline under the Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership South Cass Lake Pumping Station, in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Three weeks of field work conducted between May 2007 and July 2008 delineated a dissolved plume of aromatic hydrocarbons and characterized the biodegradation processes of the petroleum. Field activities included installing monitoring wells, collecting sediment cores, sampling water from wells, and measuring water-table elevations. Geochemical measurements included concentrations of constituents in both spilled and pipeline oil, dissolved alkylbenzenes...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Our results show that subsurface crude-oil degradation rates at a long-term research site were strongly influenced by small-scale variations in hydrologic conditions. The site is a shallow glacial outwash aquifer located near Bemidji in northern Minnesota that became contaminated when oil spilled from a broken pipeline in August 1979. In the study area, separate-phase oil forms a subsurface oil body extending from land surface to about 1 m (3.3 ft) below the 6–8-m (20–26 ft)-deep water table. Oil saturation in the sediments ranges from 10–20% in the vadose zone to 30–70% near the water table. At depths below 2 m (6.6 ft), degradation of the separate-phase crude oil occurs under methanogenic conditions. The sequence...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
At many subduction zones, accretionary complexes form as sediment is off-scraped from the subducting plate. Mechanical models that treat accretionary complexes as critically tapered wedges of sediment demonstrate that pore pressure controls their taper angle by modifying basal and internal shear strength. Here, we combine a numerical model of groundwater flow with critical taper theory to quantify the effects of sediment and décollement permeability, sediment thickness, sediment partitioning between accretion and underthrusting, and plate convergence rate on steady state pore pressure. Our results show that pore pressure in accretionary wedges can be viewed as a dynamically maintained response to factors which drive...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
The light nonaqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) oil pool in an aquifer that resulted from a pipeline spill near Bemidji, Minnesota, was analyzed for volatile hydrocarbons (VHCs) to determine if the composition of the oil remains constant over time. Oil samples were obtained from wells at five locations in the oil pool in an anaerobic part of the glacial outwash aquifer. Samples covering a 21-year period were analyzed for 25 VHCs. Compared to the composition of oil from the pipeline source, VHCs identified in oil from wells sampled in 2008 were 13 to 64% depleted. The magnitude of loss for the VHCs analyzed was toluene ≫ o-xylene, benzene, C6 and C10–12 n-alkanes > C7–C9 n-alkanes > m-xylene, cyclohexane, and 1- and 2-methylnaphthalene...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: BTEX, LNAPL, Naphthalene, Oil spills, n-Alkanes
The recent discoveries of large, active populations of microbes in the subseafloor of the world's oceans supports the impact of the deep biosphere biota on global biogeochemical cycles and raises important questions concerning the functioning of these extreme environments for life. These investigations demonstrated that subseafloor microbes are unevenly distributed and that cell abundances and metabolic activities are often independent from sediment depths, with increased prokaryotic activity at geochemical and/or sedimentary interfaces. In this study we demonstrate that microbial populations vary at the scale of individual beds in the biogenic oozes of a drill site in the eastern equatorial Pacific (Ocean Drilling...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Recent observations indicate that curious closed depressions in carbonate sediments overlying basement edifices are widespread in the equatorial Pacific. A possible mechanism for their creation is dissolution by fluids exiting basement vents from off-axis hydrothermal flow. Quantitative analysis based on the retrograde solubility of calcium carbonate and cooling of basement fluids during ascent provides an estimate for the dissolution capacity of the venting fluids. Comparison of the dissolution capacity and fluid flux with typical equatorial Pacific carbonate mass accumulation rates shows that this mechanism is feasible. By maintaining sediment-free basement outcrops, the process may promote widespread circulation...
The fate of hydrocarbons in the subsurface near Bemidji, Minnesota, has been investigated by a multidisciplinary group of scientists for over a quarter century. Research at Bemidji has involved extensive investigations of multiphase flow and transport, volatilization, dissolution, geochemical interactions, microbial populations, and biodegradation with the goal of providing an improved understanding of the natural processes limiting the extent of hydrocarbon contamination. A considerable volume of oil remains in the subsurface today despite 30 years of natural attenuation and 5 years of pump-and-skim remediation. Studies at Bemidji were among the first to document the importance of anaerobic biodegradation processes...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Many plate boundary faults, including the San Andreas Fault, appear to slip at unexpectedly low shear stress. One long-standing explanation for a “weak” San Andreas Fault is that fluid release by dehydration reactions during regional metamorphism generates elevated fluid pressures that are localized within the fault, reducing the effective normal stress. We evaluate this hypothesis by calculating realistic fluid production rates for the San Andreas Fault system, and incorporating them into 2-D fluid flow models. Our results show that for a wide range of permeability distributions, fluid sources from crustal dehydration are too small and short-lived to generate, sustain, or localize fluid pressures in the fault sufficient...
High resolution direct-push profiling over short vertical distances was used to investigate CH4 attenuation in a petroleum contaminated aquifer near Bemidji, Minnesota. The contaminant plume was delineated using dissolved gases, redox sensitive components, major ions, carbon isotope ratios in CH4 and CO2, and the presence of methanotrophic bacteria. Sharp redox gradients were observed near the water table. Shifts in δ13CCH4 from an average of − 57.6‰ (± 1.7‰) in the methanogenic zone to − 39.6‰ (± 8.7‰) at 105 m downgradient, strongly suggest CH4 attenuation through microbially mediated degradation. In the downgradient zone the aerobic/anaerobic transition is up to 0.5 m below the water table suggesting that transport...
High resolution direct-push profiling over short vertical distances was used to investigate CH4 attenuation in a petroleum contaminated aquifer near Bemidji, Minnesota. The contaminant plume was delineated using dissolved gases, redox sensitive components, major ions, carbon isotope ratios in CH4 and CO2, and the presence of methanotrophic bacteria. Sharp redox gradients were observed near the water table. Shifts in δ13CCH4 from an average of − 57.6‰ (± 1.7‰) in the methanogenic zone to − 39.6‰ (± 8.7‰) at 105 m downgradient, strongly suggest CH4 attenuation through microbially mediated degradation. In the downgradient zone the aerobic/anaerobic transition is up to 0.5 m below the water table suggesting that transport...
Gradients in contaminant concentrations and isotopic compositions commonly are used to derive reaction parameters for natural attenuation in aquifers. Differences between field-scale (apparent) estimated reaction rates and isotopic fractionations and local-scale (intrinsic) effects are poorly understood for complex natural systems. For a heterogeneous alluvial fan aquifer, numerical models and field observations were used to study the effects of physical heterogeneity on reaction parameter estimates. Field measurements included major ions, age tracers, stable isotopes, and dissolved gases. Parameters were estimated for the O2 reduction rate, denitrification rate, O2 threshold for denitrification, and stable N isotope...
Unsaturated flow and transport under a natural hydraulic gradient in a Mediterranean climate were investigated with a field tracer experiment combined with laboratory analyses and numerical modeling. Bromide was applied to the surface of a sandy soil during the dry season. During the subsequent rainy season, repeated sediment sampling tracked the movement of bromide through the profile. Analysis of data on moisture content, matric pressure, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, bulk density, and soil texture and structure provides insights into parameterization and use of the advective-dispersive modeling approach. Capturing the gross features of tracer and moisture movement with model simulations required an order-of-magnitude...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Benzene and alkylbenzene biodegradation rates and patterns were measured using an in situ microcosm in a crude-oil contaminated aquifer near Bemidji, Minnesota. Benzene-D6, toluene, ethylbenzene, o-, m- and p-xylenes and four pairs of C3- and C4-benzenes were added to an in situ microcosm and studied over a 3-year period. The microcosm allowed for a mass-balance approach and quantification of hydrocarbon biodegradation rates within a well-defined iron-reducing zone of the anoxic plume. Among the BTEX compounds, the apparent order of persistence is ethylbenzene > benzene > m,p-xylenes > o-xylene ≥ toluene. Threshold concentrations were observed for several compounds in the in situ microcosm, below which degradation...
The light nonaqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) oil pool in an aquifer that resulted from a pipeline spill near Bemidji, Minnesota, was analyzed for volatile hydrocarbons (VHCs) to determine if the composition of the oil remains constant over time. Oil samples were obtained from wells at five locations in the oil pool in an anaerobic part of the glacial outwash aquifer. Samples covering a 21-year period were analyzed for 25 VHCs. Compared to the composition of oil from the pipeline source, VHCs identified in oil from wells sampled in 2008 were 13 to 64% depleted. The magnitude of loss for the VHCs analyzed was toluene ≫ o-xylene, benzene, C6 and C10–12 n-alkanes > C7–C9 n-alkanes > m-xylene, cyclohexane, and 1- and 2-methylnaphthalene...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: BTEX, LNAPL, Naphthalene, Oil spills, n-Alkanes
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) solute transport and biodegradation code BIOMOC was used in conjunction with the USGS universal inverse modeling code UCODE to quantify field-scale hydrocarbon dissolution and biodegradation at the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program crude-oil spill research site located near Bemidji, MN. This inverse modeling effort used the extensive historical data compiled at the Bemidji site from 1986 to 1997 and incorporated a multicomponent transport and biodegradation model. Inverse modeling was successful when coupled transport and degradation processes were incorporated into the model and a single dissolution rate coefficient was used for all BTEX components. Assuming a stationary...
The impact of agricultural chemicals on groundwater quality depends on the interactions of biogeochemical and hydrologic factors. To identify key processes affecting distribution of agricultural nitrate in groundwater, a parsimonious transport model was applied at 14 sites across the U.S. Simulated vertical profiles of NO3−, N2 from denitrification, O2, Cl−, and environmental tracers of groundwater age were matched to observations by adjusting the parameters for recharge rate, unsaturated zone travel time, fractions of N and Cl− inputs leached to groundwater, O2 reduction rate, O2 threshold for denitrification, and denitrification rate. Model results revealed important interactions among biogeochemical and physical...
Evidence for a weak San Andreas Fault includes (1) borehole heat flow measurements that show no evidence for a frictionally generated heat flow anomaly and (2) the inferred orientation of σ1 nearly perpendicular to the fault trace. Interpretations of the stress orientation data remain controversial, at least in close proximity to the fault, leading some researchers to hypothesize that the San Andreas Fault is, in fact, strong and that its thermal signature may be removed or redistributed by topographically driven groundwater flow in areas of rugged topography, such as typify the San Andreas Fault system. To evaluate this scenario, we use a steady state, two-dimensional model of coupled heat and fluid flow within...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation