Biogeochemistry and isotope geochemistry of a landfill leachate plume

Boris M. van Breukelen, Wilfred F. M. Röling, Jacobus Groen, Jasper Griffioen, Henk W. van Verseveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The biogeochemical processes were identified which improved the leachate composition in the flow direction of a landfill leachate plume (Banisveld, The Netherlands). Groundwater observation wells were placed at specific locations after delineating the leachate plume using geophysical tests to map subsurface conductivity. Redox processes were determined using the distribution of solid and soluble redox species, hydrogen concentrations, concentration of dissolved gases (N 2, Ar, and CH 4), and stable isotopes ( δ15N-NO 3, δ34S-SO 4, δ13C-CH 4, δ2H-CH 4, and δ13C of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon (DOC and DIC, respectively)). The combined application of these techniques improved the redox interpretation considerably. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) decreased downstream in association with increasing δ13C-DOC values confirming the occurrence of degradation. Degradation of DOC was coupled to iron reduction inside the plume, while denitrification could be an important redox process at the top fringe of the plume. Stable carbon and hydrogen isotope signatures of methane indicated that methane was formed inside the landfill and not in the plume. Total gas pressure exceeded hydrostatic pressure in the plume, and methane seems subject to degassing. Quantitative proof for DOC degradation under iron-reducing conditions could only be obtained if the geochemical processes cation exchange and precipitation of carbonate minerals (siderite and calcite) were considered and incorporated in an inverse geochemical model of the plume. Simulation of δ13C-DIC confirmed that precipitation of carbonate minerals happened.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-268
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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