Sulfur isotopes as indicators of amended bacterial sulfate reduction processes influencing field scale uranium bioremediation

Jennifer L. Druhan, Mark E. Conrad, Kenneth H. Williams, Lucie N'Guessan, Philip E. Long, Susan S. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aqueous uranium (U(VI)) concentrations in a contaminated aquifer in Rifle Colorado have been successfully lowered through electron donor amended bioreduction. Samples collected during the acetate amendment experiment were analyzed for aqueous concentrations of Fe(II), sulfate, sulfide, acetate, U(VI), and δ34S of sulfate and sulfide to explore the utility of sulfur isotopes as indicators of in situ acetate amended sulfate and uranium bioreduction processes. Enrichment of up to 7% in δ34S of sulfate in down-gradient monitoring wells indicates a transition to elevated bacterial sulfate reduction. A depletion in Fe(II), sulfate, and sulfide concentrations at the height of sulfate reduction, along with an increase in the δ34S of sulfide to levels approaching the δ 34S values of sulfate, indicates sulfate limited conditions concurrent with a rebound in U(VI) concentrations. Upon cessation of acetate amendment, sulfate and sulfide concentrations increased, while δ34S values of sulfide returned to less than -20‰ and sulfate δ34S decreased to near-background values, indicating lower levels of sulfate reduction accompanied by a corresponding drop in U(VI). Results indicate a transition between electron donor and sulfate-limited conditions at the height of sulfate reduction and suggest stability of biogenic FeS precipitates following the end of acetate amendment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7842-7849
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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