Simulation of oil bioremediation in a tidally influenced beach: Spatiotemporal evolution of nutrient and dissolved oxygen

Xiaolong Geng, Zhong Pan, Michel C. Boufadel, Tamay Ozgokmen, Kenneth Lee, Lin Zhao

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26 Scopus citations


Numerical experiments of oil bioremediation of tidally influenced beach were simulated using the model BIOMARUN. Nutrient and dissolved oxygen were assumed present in a solution applied on the exposed beach face, and the concentration of these amendments was tracked throughout the beach for up to 6 months. It was found that, in comparison to natural attenuation, bioremediation increased the removal efficiency by 76% and 65% for alkanes and aromatics, respectively. Increasing the nutrient concentration in the applied solution did not always enhance biodegradation as oxygen became limiting even when the beach was originally oxygen-rich. Therefore, replenishment of oxygen to oil-contaminated zone was also essential. Stimulation of oil biodegradation was more evident in the upper and midintertidal zone of the beach, and less in the lower intertidal zone. This was due to reduced nutrient and oxygen replenishment, as very little of the amendment solution reached that zone. It was found that under continual application, most of the oil biodegraded within 2 months, while it persisted for 6 months under natural conditions. While the difference in duration suggests minimal long-term effects, there are situations where the beach would need to be cleaned for major ecological functions, such as temporary nesting or feeding for migratory birds. Biochemical retention time map (BRTM) showed that the duration of solution application was dependent upon the stimulated oil biodegradation rate. By contrast, the application rate of the amendment solution was dependent upon the subsurface extent of the oil-contaminated zone. Delivery of nutrient and oxygen into coastal beach involved complex interaction among amendment solution, groundwater, and seawater. Therefore, approaches that ignore the hydrodynamics due to tide are unlikely to provide the optimal solutions for shoreline bioremediation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2385-2404
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • BIOMARUN model
  • biochemical retention time map (BRTM)
  • spring and neap tide
  • subsurface oil biodegradation and bioremediation
  • tidally influenced beaches


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