Abstract :

The study is aimed to monitor bioremediation of hydrocarbon-polluted soils by measuring geophysical electromagnetic parameters. A previous study at lab scale showed that biostimulated indigenous microorganisms can remove diesel oil from soil successfully. Herein, we focused on the result of a laboratory test using Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) probes to measure electrical conductivity and dielectric permittivity in a column of sandy soil artificially contaminated with diesel oil. To simulate aerobic degradation of hydrocarbons, mesocosms were set-up in two Plexiglas columns (inner diameter = 13.8 cm) with 3.4 kg of soil (layer height = 14 cm) spiked with 0.24 kg of diesel oil and hydrated with 0.4 kg of Mineral Salt Medium for Bacteria. One mesocosm was aerated by air injection from the bottom of the column, while the other had only natural aeration due to air diffusion through the soil itself. In each column, electrical conductivity and dielectric permittivity were monitored by TDR probes for 105 days. TDR measurements were supported by microbiological and gas chromatographic analyses, along with SEM images. The findings showed that air injection heavily influenced the TDR monitoring, probably due to generation of air bubbles around the probe that interfered with probe-soil coupling. Therefore, the measurement accuracy was reduced in an irreversible way. In the non-aerated system, a slight (2%) and linear decrease of dielectric permittivity was observed over time, meanwhile electrical conductivity decreased by about 30%.