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Publication - Dr Timothy Knowles

    Dual Carbon-Chlorine Stable Isotope Investigation of Sources and Fate of Chlorinated Ethenes in Contaminated Groundwater

    Citation

    Wiegert, C, Aeppli, C, Knowles, T, Holmstrand, H, Evershed, R, Pancost, RD, Machackova, J & Gustafsson, O, 2012, ‘Dual Carbon-Chlorine Stable Isotope Investigation of Sources and Fate of Chlorinated Ethenes in Contaminated Groundwater’. Environmental Science and Technology, vol 46., pp. 10918-10925

    Abstract

    Chlorinated ethenes (CEs) are ubiquitous groundwater contaminants, yet there remains a need for a method to efficiently monitor their in situ degradation. We report here the first field application of combined stable carbon and chlorine isotope analysis of tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) to investigate their biodegradation in a heavily contaminated aquifer. The two-dimensional Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (2D-CSIA) approach was facilitated by a recently developed gas chromatography-quadrupole mass spectrometry (GCqMS) method for delta Cl-37 determination. Both C and Cl isotopes showed evidence of ongoing PCE transformation. Applying published C isotope enrichment factors (epsilon(C)) enabled evaluation of the extent of in situ PCE degradation (11-78%). We interpreted C and Cl isotopes using a numerical reactive transport model along a 60-m flow path. It revealed that combined PCE and TCE mass load was dechlorinated by less than 10%, and that cis-dichloroethene was not further dechlorinated. Furthermore, the 2D-CSIA approach allowed estimation of Cl isotope enrichment factors epsilon(Cl) (-7.8 to -0.8 parts per thousand) and characteristic epsilon(Cl)/epsilon(C) values (0.42-1.12) for reductive PCE dechlorination at this field site. This investigation demonstrates the benefit of 2D-CSIA to assess in situ degradation of CEs and the applicability of Cl isotope fractionation to evaluate PCE and TCE dechlorination.

    Full details in the University publications repository