Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory


Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Visits Reston

Interior Secretary Zinke meets with USGS scientists Dr. Denise Akob and Dr. Adam Mumford, and uses an anaerobic chamber.

Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently visited Reston to share his vision for the US Geological Survey. He met with US Geological Survey personnel, including Reston Microbiology Laboratory and Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory scientists Dr. Denise Akob and Dr. Adam Mumford (shown here, along with Secretary Zinke using an anaerobic chamber).

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...

NGWA's workshop on Groundwater Quality and Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Current Understanding and Science Needs

The NGWA's workshop Groundwater Quality and Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Current Understanding and Science Needs will be held Tuesday, April 25, 2017 through Wednesday, April 26, 2017 in Columbus, OH. Visit the NGWA website for more information.

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...

Landfill Leachate Released to Wastewater Treatment Plants and other Environmental Pathways Contains a Mixture of Contaminants including Pharmaceuticals

Bottles containing wastewater samples.

New scientific research from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) details how landfill leachate, disposed from landfills to environmental pathways, is host to numerous contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). Access the full report...

Investigation: Environmental Oversight of Pipelines in Minnesota Lacking

USGS RBPGL scientist Isabelle Cozzarelli investigating an oil pipeline spill.

A US Geological Survey researcher pulls oil from the ground near Bemidji where a pipeline ruptured in 1979. Thirty-six years later, environmental response plans to oil spills are still largely unregulated, according to state lawmakers.

GSA, Baltimore, MD, November 1–4, 2015

A USGS NRP scientist collects and oil/water sample near Bemidji MN.

Multiple papers were presented at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Baltimore, November 1-4, 2015, highlighting current research on crude oil natural attenuation and environmental impacts of UOG wastewater.

Oil in the shallow subsurface: Which hydrocarbons are most resistant to degradation in the oil and the groundwater plume. View Presentation Abstract Online

Geochemical Investigations of wastewater spills related to unconventional oil development in the Williston Basin. View Presentation Abstract Online

Impact of unconventional gas waste water disposal on the structure and activity of surficial stream microbial communities. View Presentation Abstract Online

Towards measuring and interpreting trace light hydrocarbons in the surface water and groundwater. View Presentation Abstract Online

Influences of typical hydraulic fracturing fluid constituents on the structure and activity of iron reducing microbial communities. View Presentation Abstract Online

A comprehensive assessment of three high-quality headwater streams in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. View Presentation Abstract Online

Selection of Best Groundwater Reports of 2014 from a Water Science Center

USGS Scientists discussing field notes.

The Office of Groundwater (OGW) announced the "Best Report" for 2014 is "Hydrogeologic characterization and assessment of bioremediation of chlorinated benzenes and benzene in wetland areas, Standard Chlorine of Delaware, Inc. Superfund Site, New Castle County, Delaware, 2009–12" by Michelle Lorah, Charles Walker, Anna Baker, Jessica Teunis, Emily Majcher, Michael Brayton, Jeff Raffensperger, and Isabelle Cozzarelli, published as U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5140. The report was prepared by the Maryland-Delaware-DC Water Science Center in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. View the full report

USGS samples brine spill, North Dakota

A USGS scientist takes samples from a brine spill related to hydraulic fracturing (fracking), North Dakota.

On January 6, 2015, three million gallons of saltwater drilling waste spilled from a western North Dakota pipeline. The brine is a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing and contains salt as well as other fracking fluids and petroleum products. This is the state’s largest brine spill since the North Dakota oil boom began.

The spill has impacted two creeks; Blacktail Creek and Little Muddy Creek. The Little Muddy Creek feeds the Missouri River which is a source of drinking water in the area.

USGS sampled the site in February and is planning to return to the site to re-sample as the temperatures in the region change.

USGS Press Release: Natural Breakdown of Petroleum Results in Arsenic Mobilization in Groundwater, January 2015

The USGS Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater field team.

Changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons in groundwater promote mobilization of naturally occurring arsenic from aquifer sediments into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant and overlooked arsenic groundwater contamination. Arsenic is a toxin and carcinogen linked to numerous forms of skin, bladder, and lung cancer. Of particular concern to public health is elevated arsenic in groundwater used for drinking water. Read more...

Hydraulic Fracturing Research Featured on PRI'’'s "Living on Earth"

Dr. Denise Akob holds vials filled with iron minerals.

Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory (RBPGL) Collaborator Dr. Denise Akob holds vials filled with iron minerals (Photo: Reid R. Frazier)

Ongoing work in the Reston Biogeochemical Processes in Groundwater Laboratory on hydraulic fracturing was recently featured on Public Radio International’s Living on Earth.

Recent Field Work in Bemidji, MnN

USGS scientists collecting cores and water samples for analyses for arsenic speciation near Bemidji, MN.

Part of the July 2014 field sampling involved collecting cores and water samples for analyses for arsenic speciation that is associated with iron minerals in the Bemidji plume.


GSA, October, 2014 - Rates of Arsenic Mobilization During Fe-Reduction in Wetland Sediments Contaminated with BTEX: Influences of Ethanol and Nitrate as Co-Contaminants; Rate of Petroleum Hydrocarbon Biodegradation in Anoxic Wetland Sediment With the Addition of Common- Contaminants.

Recent Field Sampling in West Virginia

Several sites progressing down along a small stream were sampled adjacent to a waste water disposal site in West Virginia. Aqueous and sediments were collected for organic and inorganic geochemical analyses.