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Assessment of Advective Porewater Movement Affecting Mass Transfer of Hydrophobic Organic Contaminants in Marine Intertidal Sediment

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David WernerORCiD, Professor Richard Luthy


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Advective porewater movement and molecular diffusion are important factors affecting the mass transfer of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) in marsh and mudflat sediments. study assessed porewater movement in an intertidal mudflat in South Basin adiacentto Hunters Point Shipyard, San CA, where a pilot-scale test of sorbent amendment assessed the in situ stabilization of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). quantify advective porewater movement within the top 0-60 cm sediment layer, we used temperature as a tracer and conducted heat transport analysis using 14-day data from multidepth sediment temperature logging stations and one-dimensional heat transport simulations. The best-fit conditions gave an average Darcy velocity of 3.8cm/d in the downward vertical direction for sorbent-amended sediment with a plausible range of 0cm/d to 8cm/d. In a limiting case with no net advection, the best-fit depth-averaged mechanical dispersion coefficient was 2.2 x 10(-7) m(2)/s with a range of 0.9 x to 5.6 x 10(-7) m(2)/s. The Peclet number for PCB mobilization showed that molecular diffusion would control PCB mass from sediment to sorbent particles for the case of uniform distribution of sorbent. However, the advective flow and mechanical dispersion in the test site would significantly benefit the stabilization effect of heterogeneously distributed sorbent by acting to smooth out the heterogeneities and homogenizing pollutant concentrations across the entire bioactive zone. These measurements and modeling techniques on intertidal sediment porewater transport could be useful for the development of more reliable mass transfer models for the prediction of contaminant release within the sediment bed, the movement of HOCs in the intertidal aquatic environment, and in situ sequestration by sorbent addition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cho YM, Werner D, Moffett KB, Luthy RG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Science & Technology

Year: 2010

Volume: 44

Issue: 15

Pages: 5842-5848

Print publication date: 01/08/2010

ISSN (print): 0013-936X

ISSN (electronic): 1520-5851

Publisher: American Chemical Society


DOI: 10.1021/es903583y


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Funder referenceFunder name
Stanford Graduate Fellowship
Tetra Tech EM, Inc., San Francisco, CA
U.S. Navy, NAVFAC Southwest Division, San Diego, CA
EAR-0634709National Science Foundation
ER-0510Department of Defense
ER-1552Department of Defense
FOO 125/AALeverhulme Trust