Monitoring and Modeling Microbial Sulfate Reduction and Inhibition in a Mesoscale Tank Experiment

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Christopher G Hubbard1, Yuxin Wu1, Li Li2, Yvette M Piceno1, Yiwei Cheng1, Markus Bill1, John D Coates1,3, Gary L Andersen1, Mark E Conrad1 and Jonathan Blair Ajo Franklin1, (1)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)Pennsylvania State University Main Campus, John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, University Park, PA, United States, (3)University of California Berkeley, Plant and Microbial Biology, Berkeley, CA, United States
Subsurface biogeochemical cycling at the field-scale is controlled by a complex interplay between hydrological, geochemical and biological parameters. Mesoscale tank experiments can help to bridge the gap in complexity and understanding between well constrained batch and column experiments, and the interpretation of field data. In this contribution we present the results of a tank experiment investigating microbial sulfate reduction and inhibition in a porous media (20-30 mesh Ottawa sand). Microbial sulfate reduction is a process of wide biogeochemical significance, including in the context of oil reservoirs where the generation of sulfide can result in corrosion of steel infrastructure and additional downstream processing. Inhibition of sulfate reduction is therefore a high priority for this industry. Tracer experiments were conducted at the start and end of the experiment to constrain flow pathways and heterogeneities. The tank was inoculated with a San Francisco Bay mud/water enrichment utilizing acetate as the electron donor and continuous flow was initiated using bay-water with 10 mM acetate. Samples were taken from an array of 12 steel boreholes and showed spatiotemporal heterogeneities in the development of sulfidogenesis, reaching a peak of ~5 mM dissolved sulfide 71 days after inoculation. 10 mM perchlorate was then added to the influent to inhibit sulfidogenesis and dissolved sulfide decreased to ~0.03 mM by day 95. Stable isotope analysis of dissolved sulfate showed an increase in δ34S by ~10‰ compared with influent values but δ34S did not return to influent values by day 95, which may be indicative of the mixing between new and residual sulfate in the tank. Ongoing microbial community analyses are being used to help constrain microbial metabolisms. Finally, all the data is being integrated into a reactive transport model to better constrain the observed interplay between hydrology, geochemistry and biology.