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Columbia University

Superfund Research Program

Biogeochemistry Core

Project Leaders: Alexander F. van Geen, Steven N. Chillrud
Grant Number: P42ES010349
Funding Period: 2000-2021

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Project Summary (2006-2011)

The Biogeochemistry Core supports geochemical and microbiological measurements on behalf of the earth science and environmental engineering projects and groundwater analyses for constituents of potential health concern for the biomedical projects. Using a VG Axiom (magnetic sector) High- Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer (HR ICP-MS) housed at Lamont-Doherty Observatory, ~10,000 samples of groundwater and sediment digests are analyzed for up to 33 major and trace elements. Existing methods are being refined to determine As concentrations and speciation in the field and in the laboratory. Sediment deposition rates are determined over a range of time scales using the radioisotopes 14C, 137Cs, and 210Pb. Through collaboration with Dartmouth College and the Universite Paul Cezanne (France), the Biogeochemistry Core supports the spectroscopic characterization of Fe and As mineralogy and speciation for selected sediment samples at various synchrotron facilities. This includes bulk analysis by X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure (XANES) and Extended X-ray Absorption Fine-Structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy, as well microbeam X-ray microprobe analysis to determine spatial heterogeneity. The Biogeochemistry Core also supports a concerted effort to identify the microorganisms responsible for mobilizing As in groundwater. This work is being conducted on the Columbia Health Sciences campus and in collaboration with Duquesne University. Using both culture-based on non-culture-based methods, the presence of arsenic-metabolizing bacteria is being determined in selected aquifer material from the U.S. and Bangladesh. The microbial diversity of groundwater and sediment samples is being established using 16srRNA and specific genes, such as the Arr and Ars operon. DMA and RNA Stable Isotope-Probingmethods are also being developed.

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