Characterization of redox conditions in groundwater contaminant plumes

Thomas Højlund Christensen, Poul Løgstrup Bjerg, Steven A. Banwarth, Rasmus Jakobsen, Gorm Heron, Hans-Jørgen Albrechtsen

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Evaluation of redox conditions in groundwater pollution plumes is often a prerequisite for understanding the behaviour of the pollutants in the plume and for selecting remediation approaches. Measuring of redox conditions in pollution plumes is, however, a fairly recent issue and yet relative few cases have been reported. No standardised or generally accepted approach exists. Slow electrode kinetics and the common lack of internal equilibrium of redox processes in pollution plumes make, with a few exceptions, direct electrochemical measurement and rigorous interpretation of redox potentials dubious, if not erroneous. Several other approaches have been used in addressing redox conditions in pollution plumes: redox-sensitive compounds in groundwater samples, hydrogen concentrations in groundwater, concentrations of volatile fatty acids in groundwater, sediment characteristics and microbial tools, such as MPN counts, PLFA biomarkers and redox bioassays. This paper reviews the principles behind the different approaches, summarizes methods used and evaluates the approaches based on the experience from the reported applications. C 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)165-241
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Redox
  • Microbiology
  • Contaminant plumes
  • Hydrogen
  • Sediments
  • Characterisation of plumes

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