Simulation of aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation processes at a crude oil spill site


A two’dimensional, multispecies reactive solute transport model with sequential aerobic and anaerobic degradation processes was developed and tested. The model was used to study the field’scale solute transport and degradation processes at the Bemidji, Minnesota, crude oil spill site. The simulations included the biodegradation of volatile and nonvolatile fractions of dissolved organic carbon by aerobic processes, manganese and iron reduction, and methanogenesis. Model parameter estimates were constrained by published Monod kinetic parameters, theoretical yield estimates, and field biomass measurements. Despite the considerable uncertainty in the model parameter estimates, results of simulations reproduced the general features of the observed groundwater plume and the measured bacterial concentrations. In the simulation, 46% of the total dissolved organic carbon (TDOC) introduced into the aquifer was degraded. Aerobic degradation accounted for 40% of the TDOC degraded. Anaerobic processes accounted for the remaining 60% of degradation of TDOC: 5% by Mn reduction, 19% by Fe reduction, and 36% by methanogenesis. Thus anaerobic processes account for more than half of the removal of DOC at this site.


I chose this article because I don’t think I have read an article yet that solely compared two different types of microorganisms performing the same process. The differences between aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms are cool in general, but learning about how they each perform the same very specific task would be intriguing.   Although this is an older paper, I wanted to know what kind of simulations and models they made and used back then, and what future models or simulations could be created from then, now in the present day.



Eassaid, H. I., Bekins, B. A., Godsey, E. M., Warren, E., Baedecker, M. J., & Cozzarelli, I. M. (1995). Simulation of aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation processes at a crude oil spill site.  Water Resources Research, 31,  3309-3327.



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