Coupled effect of porous network and water content on the natural attenuation of diesel in unsaturated soils

Seongnam An, Kibeum Kim, Heesoo Woo, Seong Taek Yun, Jaeshik Chung, Seunghak Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The natural attenuation potential of a vadose zone against diesel is critical for optimizing remedial actions and determining groundwater vulnerability to contamination. Here, diesel attenuation in unsaturated soils was systematically examined to develop a qualitative relationship between physical soil properties and the natural attenuation capacity of a vadose zone against diesel. The uniformity coefficient (Cu) and water saturation (Sw, %) were considered as the proxies reflecting the degree of effects by porous network and water content in different soils, respectively. These, in turn, are related to the primary diesel attenuation mechanisms of volatilization and biodegradation. The volatilization of diesel was inversely proportional to Cu and Sw, which could be attributed to effective pore channels facilitating gas transport. Conversely, biodegradation was highly proportional to Cu under unsaturated conditions (Sw = 35–71%), owing to nutrients typically associated with fine soil particles. The microbial community in unsaturated soils was affected by Sw rather than Cu. The overall diesel attenuation including volatilization and biodegradation was optimized at Sw = 35% for all tested soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134804
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept


  • Diesel
  • Natural attenuation potential
  • Uniformity coefficient
  • Vadose zone
  • Water saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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