Tracer studies in laboratory beach simulating tidal influences

Michel C. Boufadel, Makram T. Suidan, Albert D. Venosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Bioremediation of oil spills on tidally influenced beaches commonly involves the addition of a nutrient solution to the contaminated region of the beach at low tide to stimulate the growth of indigenous oil-degrading bacteria. Maximizing the residence time of nutrients in the beach and subsequently their contact time with microorganisms is a main goal for successful bioremediation. Therefore, understanding the effects of the tide on water flow and solute transport in a beach is an essential task for designing a nutrient application strategy. We investigated these effects by conducting a tracer study in a laboratory beach simulating nutrient application on natural beaches. The study consisted of applying, at low tide, a conservative tracer solution onto the beach surface near the high-tide line and monitoring its movement in the beach subsurface. The tidal motion caused the applied plume to move downward and seaward. The downward movement occurred during rising tides, while the seaward movement occurred mainly during falling tides. The results indicate that nutrients should be applied at the high-tide line during low tides. Guidelines for scaling up the results to natural beaches are provided along with an example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


  • Beaches
  • Biological treatment
  • Nutrients
  • Oil spills


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