Fate of herbicides in a shallow aerobic aquifer: A continuous field injection experiment (Vejen,Denmark)

Mette Broholm, K. Rügge, Nina Tuxen, Anker Lajer Højberg, Hans Mosbæk, Poul Løgstrup Bjerg

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A continuous, natural gradient, field injection experiment, involving six herbicides and a tracer, was performed in a shallow aerobic aquifer near Vejen, Denmark. Bentazone, ()-2-(4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy) propanoic acid (MCPP), dichlorprop, isoproturon, and the dichlobenil metabolite 2,6-dichlor-benzamide (BAM) were injected along with 2-methyl-4,6-dinitrophenol (not discussed in this paper) and the tracer bromide. The injection lasted for 216 days and created a continuous plume in the aquifer. The plume was monitored in three dimensions in 96 multilevel samplers of 6–9 points each for 230 days, with selected individual points for a longer period. The bromide plume followed a complex path through the monitoring network downgradient of the injection wells. The plume movement was controlled by spatially varied hydraulic conductivities of the sand deposit and influenced by asynchronous seasonal variation in groundwater potentials. An average flow velocity of 0.5 m/d was observed, as depicted by bromide. Bentazone, BAM, MCPP, and dichlorprop retardation was negligible, and only slight retardation of isoproturon was observed in the continuous injection experiment and a preceding pulse experiment. No degradation of bentazone was observed in the aerobic aquifer during the monitoring period. BAM and isoproturon were not degraded within 5 m downgradient of the injection. The two phenoxy acids MCPP and dichlorprop were both degraded in the aerobic aquifer. Near the source a lag phase was observed followed by fast degradation of the phenoxy acids, indicating growth kinetics. The phenoxy acids were completely degraded within 1 m downgradient of the injection wells, resulting in the plumes being divided into small plumes at the injection wells and pulses farther downgradient. During the lag phase, phenoxy acids had spread beyond the 25 m long monitoring network. However, the mass of the phenoxy acids passing the 10–25 m fences never matched the corresponding bentazone or bromide masses, and the pulse was observed to shrink in size. This indicates that this pulse of phenoxy acids was being partially degraded at a low rate as it traveled through the aquifer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)3163-3176
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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