Spectral induced polarization and electrodic potential monitoring of microbially mediated iron sulfide transformations

Yves Robert Personna, Dimitrios Ntarlagiannis, Lee Slater, Nathan Yee, Michael O'Brien, Susan Hubbard

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38 Scopus citations


Stimulated sulfate-reduction is a bioremediation technique utilized for the sequestration of heavy metals in the subsurface. We performed laboratory column experiments to investigate the geoelectrical response of iron sulfide transformations by Desulfovibrio vulgaris. Two geoelectrical methods, (1) spectral induced polarization (SIP), and (2) electrodic potential measurements, were investigated. Aqueous geochemistry (sulfate, lactate, sulfide, and acetate), observations of precipitates (identified from electron microscopy as iron sulfide), and electrodic potentials on bisulfide ion (HS-) sensitive silver-silver chloride (Ag-AgCI) electrodes (∼-630 mV) were diagnostic of induced transitions between anaerobic iron sulfide forming conditions and aerobic conditions promoting iron sulfide dissolution. The SIP data showed ∼10 mrad anomalies during iron sulfide mineralization accompanying microbial activity under an anaerobic transition. These anomalies disappeared during iron sulfide dissolution under the subsequent aerobic transition. SIP model parameters based on a Cole-Cole relaxation model of the polarization at the mineral-fluid interface were converted to (1) estimated biomineral surface area to pore volume (Sp), and (2) an equivalent polarizable sphere diameter (d) controlling the relaxation time. The temporal variation in these model parameters is consistent with filling and emptying of pores by iron sulfide biofilms, as the system transitions between anaerobic (pore filling) and aerobic (pore emptying) conditions. The results suggest that combined SIP and electrodic potential measurements might be used to monitor spatiotemporal variability in microbial iron sulfide transformations in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberG02020
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 28 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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