Groundwater-derived contaminant fluxes along a channelized Coastal Plain stream

Danita M. LaSage, Alan E. Fryar, Abhijit Mukherjee, Neil C. Sturchio, Linnea J. Heraty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Recent studies in various settings across eastern North America have examined the movement of volatile organic compound (VOC) plumes from groundwater to streams, but few studies have addressed focused discharge of such plumes in unlithified sediments. From 1999 through 2002, we monitored concentrations of trichloroethene (TCE) and the non-volatile co-contaminant technetium-99 (99Tc) along Little Bayou Creek, a first-order perennial stream in the Coastal Plain of western Kentucky. Spring flow contributed TCE and 99Tc to the creek, and TCE concentrations tended to vary with 99Tc in springs. Contaminant concentrations in stream water fluctuated seasonally, but not always synchronously with stream flow. However, contaminant influxes varied seasonally with stream flow and were dominated by a few springs. Concentrations of O2, NO3-, and SO42 -, values of δ37ClDOCl in groundwater, and the lack of less-chlorinated ethenes in groundwater and stream water indicated that anaerobic biodegradation of TCE was unlikely. Losses of TCE along Little Bayou Creek resulted mainly from volatilization, in contrast to streams receiving diffuse contaminated discharge, where intrinsic bioremediation of VOCs appears to be prevalent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Oct 15 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research described herein was funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) via the Agreement-in-Principle with the Commonwealth of Kentucky (through a contract from the Kentucky Division of Waste Management to the University of Kentucky (UK)) and via the Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment. Field work during 1997 was supported by US Geological Survey grant 1434-HQ-96-6R-02672 through the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute. However, the contents of this paper do not necessarily reflect views and policies of the US Government or the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Supplemental funding was provided by grants from the Geological Society of America Southeastern Section, the UK Graduate School, and the UK Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Brown-McFarlan Fund to LaSage and Mukherjee. We thank DOE for providing data and access to PGDP and the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for providing access to their properties. Brian Begley, Gaye Brewer, David Butler, Lee Gatterdam, Andrea Hougham, Michael LaSage, Janet Miller, Christy Suh, Karen Thompson, and Eric Wallin helped with field work. Brian Begley and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on drafts of this paper.


  • Coastal Plain
  • Groundwater
  • Kentucky
  • Stream
  • Technetium
  • Trichloroethene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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