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Preliminary Assessment of Microbial Communities and Biodegradation of Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds in Wetlands at Cluster 13, Lauderick Creek Area, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland

By Michelle M. Lorah, Mary A. Voytek, and Tracey A. Spencer

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A preliminary assessment of the microbial communities and biodegradation processes for chlorinated volatile organic compounds was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in wetlands at the Cluster 13, Lauderick Creek area at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The U.S. Geological Survey collected wetland sediment samples from 11 sites in the Lauderick Creek area for microbial analyses, and used existing data to evaluate biodegradation processes and rates. The bacterial and methanogen communities in the Lauderick Creek wetland sediments were similar to those observed in a previous U.S. Geological Survey study at the West Branch Canal Creek wet-land area, Aberdeen Proving Ground. Evaluation of the degradation rate of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane and the daughter compounds produced also showed similar results for the two wetlands. How-ever, a vertical profile of contaminant concentra-tions in the wetlands was available at only one site in the Lauderick Creek area, and flow velocities in the wetland sediment are unknown. To better evaluate natural attenuation processes and rates in the wetland sediments at Lauderick Creek, chemi-cal and hydrologic measurements are needed along Groundwater flowpaths in the wetland at additional sites and during different seasons. Nat-ural attenuation in the wetlands, enhanced biore-mediation, and constructed wetlands could be feasible remediation methods for the chlorinated volatile organic compounds discharging in the Lauderick Creek area. The similarities in the microbial communities and biodegradation pro-cesses at the Lauderick Creek and West Branch Canal Creek areas indicate that enhanced bioreme-diation techniques currently being developed for the West Branch Canal Creek wetland area would be transferable to this area.

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