Optimization of Remediation Conditions using Vadose Zone Monitoring Technology

O. Dahan, R. Mandelbaum, Z. Ronen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Success of in-situ bio-remediation of the vadose zone depends mainly onthe ability to change and control hydrological, physical and chemicalconditions of subsurface. These manipulations enables the development ofspecific, indigenous, pollutants degrading bacteria or set theenvironmental conditions for seeded bacteria. As such, the remediationefficiency is dependent on the ability to implement optimal hydraulicand chemical conditions in deep sections of the vadose zone. Enhanced bioremediation of the vadose zone is achieved under field conditions through infiltration of water enriched with chemical additives. Yet, water percolation and solute transport in unsaturated conditions is a complex process and application of water with specific chemical conditions near land surface dose not necessarily result in promoting of desired chemical and hydraulic conditions in deeper sections of the vadose zone. A newly developed vadose-zone monitoring system (VMS)allows continuous monitoring of the hydrological and chemical properties of the percolating water along deep sections of the vadose zone. Implementation of the VMS at sites that undergoes active remediation provides real time information on the chemical and hydrological conditions in the vadose zone as the remediation process progresses. Manipulating subsurface conditions for optimal biodegradation of hydrocarbons is demonstrated through enhanced bio-remediation of the vadose zone at a site that has been contaminated with gasoline products in Tel Aviv. The vadose zone at the site is composed of 6 m clay layer overlying a sandy formation extending to the water table at depth of 20m bls. The upper 5 m of contaminated soil were removed for ex-situ treatment, and the remaining 15 m vadose zone is treated in-situ through enhanced bioremedaition. Underground drip irrigation system was installed below the surface on the bottom of the excavation. Oxygen and nutrients releasing powder (EHCO, Adventus) was spread below the irrigation system to enrich the percolating water. The vadose zone monitoring system that was installed at the site allowed accurate monitoring of the wetting cycles, including: (1) wetting front propagation velocities, (2) temporal variation of the sediment water content, (2) chemical composition of the percolating water, (3) isotopic composition of BTEX compounds, (4) variations in nutrient concentration, and (5) variations in the vadose zone redox potential. Preliminary results showed that the wetting front crossed the entire vadose zone in four days reaching maximum water content values of 12 to 18 %. Temporal variation in the sediment BTEX concentrations indicated significant reduction in highly soluble and mobile compounds such as MTBE. Yet the chemical composition of the water samples through the first sampling campaign indicated that the limiting factor for biodegradation at the first wetting cycle was insufficient nitrogen. Results from each wetting cycles were used to improve the following wetting cycles in order to optimize the vadose zone conditions for microbial activity while minimizing leaching of contaminants to the groundwater.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2010, abstract id. H51H-02
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • 0418 BIOGEOSCIENCES / Bioremediation
  • 1838 HYDROLOGY / Infiltration
  • 1875 HYDROLOGY / Vadose zone
  • 1895 HYDROLOGY / Instruments and techniques: monitoring


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