The hydraulic properties, such as hydraulic conductivity and water retention, of aged diesel-contaminated and bioremediated soils were examined and implications of the hydraulic properties for assessing bioremediation performance of soils were proposed. Bioremediation of diesel-contaminated soil was performed over 80 d using three treatments; (I) no nutrient added, column-packed soil, (II) nutrient added, column-packed soil, and (III) nutrient added, loosen soil. Diesel reduction in treatment I soil (control soil) was negligible while treatment III showed the greatest extent of diesel biodegradation. All treatments showed greatest rates of diesel biodegradation during the first 20 d, followed by a much retarded biodegradation rate in the remaining incubation period. Reduction of the degradation rate due to entrained diesel within inaccessible soil pores was hypothesized and tested by measuring the hydraulic properties of two column-packed soils (treatments I and II). The hydraulic conductivity of treatment II soil (nutrient added) was consistently above that of treatment I soil (no nutrient added) at pressure heads between 0 and 15 cm. In addition, the water retention of treatment II soil was greater at pressure heads <100 cm (equivalent to pore size of >30 μm), suggesting that biodegradative removal of hydrocarbons results in enhanced wettability of larger soil pores. However, water retention was not significantly different for control and biodegraded soils at pressure heads >100 cm, where smaller size soil pores were responsible for the water retention, indicating that diesel remained in smaller soil pores (e.g., <30 μm). Both incubation kinetics and hydraulic measurements suggest that hydrocarbons located in small pores with limited microbe accessibility may be recalcitrant to bioremediation.
- Soil pore wettability
- Water retention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry