National Research Program | Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory

  • Field crew collecting sediment in West Virginia.

    Field crew collecting sediment along the Elk River in West Virginia (2014).

About Us

The Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory (RBPGL) research team conducts long-term investigations on the fate and geochemical effects of organic contaminants in subsurface environments. This research aligns with the objectives of the USGS Toxics Substances Hydrology Program and the overall USGS mission of providing earth science information on toxic substances in the Nation’s surface water and groundwater. Our research products provide a basis for water resources managers to make science-based decisions when developing effective remediation strategies and to preventing further contamination.

Contact Us

Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory
U.S. Geological Survey
431 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192

Isabelle Cozzarelli
icozzare@usgs.gov | 703-648-5899

Jeanne Jaeschke
jaeschke@usgs.gov | 703-648-5872

Analytical Services

The Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory (RBPGL) offers a range of analytical services, including non-volatile dissolved organic carbon (NVDOC) and low molecular weight organic acids (LMWOA) lactate, acetate, propionate, formate, butyrate, pyruvate and benzoate analyses. NVDOC analyses provide information on the carbon load in contaminated systems and have important implications for the evolution of redox zones and natural attenuation of contaminants. LMWOA analyses support studies that focus on biogeochemical reactions and provide insight into microbial processes. Learn more...

Recent News

Isabelle Cozzarelli Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli with fellow USGS scientists in Bemidji, MN.

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's Meritorious Service Award for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. The Meritorious Service Award is granted to employees for important contributions to science or management, a notable career, superior service in administration or in the execution of duties, or initiative in devising new and improved work methods and procedures. Read the full article...

Salting the Earth: The Environmental Impact of Oil and Gas Wastewater Spills

USGS scientists taking water samples from a frozen lake.

For five days in July 2014, a broken pipe spilled more than one million gallons of wastewater produced by unconventional oil drilling into a steep ravine filled with natural springs and beaver dams on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Researchers, including members of The Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory team, are trying to assess the potential impacts of this and other similar releases on the health of humans and the environment. Read the full article...

U.S. Geological Survey Identifies Crude-oil Metabolites in Subsurface Plumes

Scientists collecting samples for water quality analysis in Bemidji MN.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists studying two subsurface crude-oil spill sites in Minnesota measured concentrations of oil breakdown products (metabolites) at greater concentrations than parent compound concentrations.

At sites where there have been crude-oil or petroleum hydrocarbon fuel spills and contaminants have entered groundwater, metabolites from the crude oil form primarily from biodegradation reactions. The metabolites are more soluble than the parent compounds and are transported from the original source, forming a groundwater plume. Access the full report...

Ethanol-Containing Fuel Spills Enhanced Natural Trace Element Release from Sediments in an Experimental Setting

Reston Biochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory scientist collecting water sample with a syringe.

Experimental field research simulating hydrocarbon spills by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Virginia Tech, and the University of St. Thomas showed that mixed ethanol and petroleum-based fuels increased the rate by which arsenic and other natural trace elements are released from aquifer sediments to groundwater when compared to petroleum-based fuels alone. Access the full report...