Anaerobic methane oxidation in a landfill-leachate plume.
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The alluvial aquifer adjacent to Norman Landfill, OK, provides an excellent natural laboratory for the study of anaerobic processes impacting landfill-leachate contaminated aquifers. We collected groundwaters from a transect of seven multilevel wells ranging in depth from 1.3 to 11 m that were oriented parallel to the flow path. The center of the leachate plume was characterized by (1) high alkalinity and elevated concentrations of total dissolved organic carbon, reduced iron, and methane, and (2) negligible oxygen, nitrate, and sulfate concentrations. Methane concentrations and stable carbon isotope (delta13C) values suggest anaerobic methane oxidation was occurring within the plume and at its margins. Methane delta13C values increased from about -54 per thousand near the source to > -10 per thousand downgradient and at the plume margins. The isotopic fractionation associated with this methane oxidation was -13.6+/-1.0 per thousand. Methane 13C enrichment indicated that 80-90% of the original landfill methane was oxidized over the 210-m transect. First-order rate constants ranged from 0.06 to 0.23 per year, and oxidation rates ranged from 18 to 230 microM/y. Overall, hydrochemical data suggest that a sulfate reducer-methanogen consortium may mediate this methane oxidation. These results demonstrate that natural attenuation through anaerobic methane oxidation can be an important sink for landfill methane in aquifer systems.
author list (cited authors)
Grossman, E. L., Cifuentes, L. A., & Cozzarelli, I. M.