National Research Program

Biogeochemical Controls on Organic Contaminant Degradation in Heterogeneous Near Surface Environments

Quantifying the coupled hydrogeological, microbiological and geochemical processes that control natural attenuation and the redox potential of subsurface systems is fundamental to understanding contaminant transport and protecting drinking water and ecosystem health. Despite the well-recognized importance of mixing interfaces, few field investigations of contaminated systems have targeted these narrow, highly transient zones due to difficulties in obtaining representative hydrologic, geochemical, and microbiological measurements at relevant spatial and temporal scales. This project will use a combined field and laboratory investigative approach to assess the link between hydrology, geochemistry, organic carbon degradation, and the microbial community composition and function and will study the relationship between processes at mixing interfaces such as recharge/plume and ground water/surface water boundaries will be studied. A multi-disciplinary and multi-scale approach will be used to develop conceptual models that link organic carbon degradation to physical, chemical, and biological processes in complex hydrogeological environments in order to provide a comprehensive picture of organic carbon transformation processes in surficial aquifers. For additional information about this project, see project page:
Organic Compounds in Near-Surface Environments: Understanding Fate in a Changing Biogeochmical Landscape.


Andrews, W.J., Masoner, J.R., and Cozzarelli, I.M., 2012 (web publication 11/15/11), Emerging Contaminants at a Closed and an Operating Landfill in Oklahoma: Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation, v. 32, no. 1, p. 120-130. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 916 KB, published by Wiley as a U.S. Government work in the public domain)

Zhang, C., Eganhouse, R.P., Pontolillo, J., Cozzarelli, I.M., and Wang, Y., 2012, Determination of nonylphenol isomers in landfill leachate and municipal wastewater using steam distillation extraction coupled with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry: Journal of Chromatography A, v. 1230, p. 110-116. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Amos, R.T. , Bekins, B.A. , Delin, G.N. , Cozzarelli, I.M. , Blowes, D.W. , and Kirshtein, J.D., 2011, Methane oxidation in a crude oil contaminated aquifer: Delineation of aerobic reactions at the plume fringes: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 125, no. 1-4, p. 13-25. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Cozzarelli, I.M., Böhlke, J.K., Masoner, J., Breit, G.N., Lorah, M.M., Tuttle, M.L.W., and Jaeschke, J.B., 2011, Biogeochemical evolution of a landfill leachate plume, Norman, Oklahoma: Ground Water, v. 49, no. 5, p. 663-687. (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 3451 KB, published by the National Ground Water Association, no claim to original U.S. Government works.)

Jaeschke, J.B., Scholl, M.A., Cozzarelli, I.M., Masoner, J.R., Christenson, Scott, and Qi, Haiping, 2011, Stable-isotope ratios of hydrogen and oxygen in precipitation at Norman, Oklahoma, 1996–2008: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report, 2011–5262, 22 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 5.85 MB)

Kneeshaw, T.A., McGuire, J.T., Cozzarelli, I.M. and Smith, E.W., 2011, In Situ rates of sulfate reduction in response to geochemical perturbations: Ground Water, v. 49, no. 6, p. 903-913. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2010.00782.x, (on-line abstract of journal article)

Cozzarelli, I.M., Bekins, B.A., Eganhouse, R.P., Warren, E., and Essaid, H.I., 2010, In situ measurements of volatile aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation rates in groundwater: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, vol. 111, p. 48–64, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2009.12.001. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Drennan, D.M., Bekins, B.A., Warren, E., Cozzarelli, I.M., Baedecker, M.J., Herkelrath, W.N., Delin, G.N., Rosenbauer, R.J. and Campbell, P.L. 2010, Fate and transport of petroleum hydrocarbons in the subsurface near Cass Lake, Minnesota: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5085, , v. 1.1, 33 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 19.9 MB)

Lorah, M.M., Cozzarelli, I.M., and Böhlke, J.K., 2009, Biogeochemistry at a wetland sediment-alluvial aquifer interface in a landfill leachate plume: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 105, no. 3-4, p. 99-117. doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2008.11.008 (on-line abstract of journal article)

Sanford, W.E., Voytek, M.A., Powars, D.S., Jones, B.F., Cozzarelli, I.M., Cockell, C.S., and Eganhouse, R.P., 2009, Pore-water chemistry from the ICDP-USGS core hole in the Chesapeake Bay impact structure - Implications for paleohydrology, microbial habitat, and water resources in Gohn, G.S., Koeberl, C., Miller, K.G., and Reimold, W.U., eds., The ICDP-USGS Deep Drilling Project in the Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure: Results from the Eyreville Core Holes: GSA Special Paper 458, p. 867-890.

Tuttle, M.L.W., Breit, G.N., Cozzarelli I.M., 2009, Processes affecting δ34S and δ18O values of dissolved sulfate in alluvium along the Canadian River, central Oklahoma, USA: Chemical Geology, v. 265 p. 455-467. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Báez-Cazull, S.E., McGuire, J.T., Cozzarelli, I.M., and Voytek, M.A., 2008, Determination of Dominant Biogeochemical Processes in a Contaminated Aquifer-Wetland System Using Multivariate Statistical Analysis: Journal of Enviornmental Quality, v. 37, no. 1, p. 30-46. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Breit, G.N., Tuttle, M.L.W., Cozzarelli, I.M., Berry, C.J., Christenson, S.C. and Jaeschke, J.B., 2008, Results of the chemical and isotopic analyses of sediment and ground water from alluvium of the Canadian River near a closed municipal landfill, Norman, Oklahoma, Part 2: U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 2008–1134, 35 p. (on-line abstract or on-line publication in pdf format, 3.7 MB)

Weiss, J.V., and Cozzarelli, I.M., 2008, Biodegradation in contaminated aquifers -Incorporating microbial/molecular methods: Ground Water, v. 46, no. 2, p. 305-322. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6584.2007.00409.x (on-line abstract or on-line article in pdf format, 277 KB, National Ground-Water Association, no claim to original U.S. government work).

Báez-Cazull, S., McGuire, J.T., Cozzarelli, I.M., Raymond, A., and Welsh, L., 2007, Centimeter-scale characterization of biogeochemical gradients at a wetland-aquifer interface using capillary electrophoresis: Applied Geochemistry, v. 22, p. 2,664-2,683, doi: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.06.003. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Cozzarelli, I.M., and Weiss, J. V., 2007, Biogeochemistry of aquifer systems, in Hurst, C.J., Crawford, R.L., Garland, J.L., Lipson, D.A., Mills, A.L., and Stetzenbach, L.D., eds., Manual of Environmental Microbiology, 3rd edition: Washington, DC., ASM Press, p. 843-859.

Kneeshaw, T.A., McGuire, J.T., Smith, E.W., Cozzarelli, I.M., 2007, Evaluation of sulfate reduction at experimentally induced mixing interfaces using small-scale push-pull tests in an Aquifer-Wetland System: Applied Geochemistry, v.22, no. 12, p 2618-2629. doi: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.06.006 (on-line abstract of journal article)

Scholl, M., Cozzarelli, I., and Christenson, S., 2006, Recharge processes drive sulfate reduction in an alluvial aquifer contaminated with landfill leachate: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 86, p. 239-261. doi 10.1016/j.conhyd.2006.03.005 (on-line abstract of journal article)

Bekins, B. A., Cozzarelli, I.M., and Curtis, G.P., 2005, A simple method for calculating growth rates of petroleum hydrocarbon plumes: Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, 817-826. (on-line abstract of journal article)

Breit, G.N., Tuttle, M.L.W., Cozzarelli, I.M:, Christenson, S.C., Jaeschke, J.B., Fey, D.L., and Berry, C.J., 2005, Results of chemical and isotopic analyses of sediment and water from alluvium of the Canadian River near a closed municipal landfill, Norman, Oklahoma: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1091, 43 p. (on-line abstract and on-line report in pdf format, 4.3 MB)

Scholl, M.A., Christenson, S.C., Cozzarelli, I.M., Ferree, D.M., and Jaeschke, J.B., 2005, Recharge Processes in an Alluvial Aquifer Riparian Zone, Norman Landfill, Norman, Oklahoma, 1998-2000: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5238, 60 p. (on-line abstract or on-line report in pdf format, 3.1MB)

For bibliographic information prior to 2004, see the project, Comparative Study of Organic Degradation in Selected Hydrologic Environments


Isabelle M Cozzarelli (professional profile)
U.S. Geological Survey, 431 National Center, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20192
Telephone: 703-648-5899

For information on additional projects in the National Research Program, see Indexes to NRP projects and bibliographies

*For articles in Adobe® (.PDF) format, please note that you can download a free copy of Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® here. Also see Adobe® accessibility information, Information for users with disabilities, if applicable.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Linda Friedman
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Mar-2014 11:28:26 EST