Mineral precipitation upgradient from a zero-valent iron permeable reactive barrier

R. L. Johnson, R. B. Thoms, R. O'Brien Johnson, J. T. Nurmi, P. G. Tratnyek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Core samples taken from a zero-valent iron permeable reactive barrier (ZVI PRB) at Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant, Nebraska, were analyzed for physical and chemical characteristics. Precipitates containing iron and sulfide were present at much higher concentrations in native aquifer materials just upgradient of the PRB than in the PRB itself. Sulfur mass balance on core solids coupled with trends in ground water sulfate concentrations indicates that the average ground water flow after 20 months of PRB operation was approximately twenty fold less than the regional ground water velocity. Transport and reaction modeling of the aquifer PRB interface suggests that, at the calculated velocity, both iron and hydrogen could diffuse upgradient against ground water flow and thereby contribute to precipitation in the native aquifer materials. The initial hydraulic conductivity (K) of the native materials is less than that of the PRB and, given the observed precipitation in the upgradient native materials, it is likely that K reduction occurred upgradient to rather than within the PRB. Although not directly implicated, guar gum used during installation of the PRB is believed to have played a role in the precipitation and flow reduction processes by enhancing microbial activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalGround Water Monitoring and Remediation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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