A preliminary study on sulfate reduction bacteria behaviors in groundwater by sulfur and carbon isotopes: a case study in Jiaozuo City, China.
Inorganic pollutants in groundwater, such as sulfate and nitrate, have been a serious problem in China for decades. These pollutants are difficult to be removed because of their high solubility and ease of transport in subsurface environment. It had been found that microorganism could be one of the most feasible methods for inorganic pollutant elimination. During the process of degradation, some microorganisms can utilize sulfur and nitrogen in sulfate and nitrate forms, respectively, as energy sources. Meanwhile, significant variations of sulfur stable isotope ratios happened. Therefore sulfur isotope can be used as a good indicator for pollutant degradation and microbial activities. Shallow groundwater (SGW), deep groundwater (DGW), and surface water (SFW) were investigated in alluvial plain in Jiaozuo City, China. The results of hydrochemical analysis indicated that K(+), Na(+), and HCO3 (-) were dominant ions in DGW, Mg(2+) and HCO3 (-) were dominant ions in SGW, and Ca(2+) and HCO3 (-) were dominant in SFW except for LR sample. A wide variation of ? (34)SSO4 values ranging from + 7.3 to +23.6 ‰ had been observed for all water samples, with a mean value of +20.7, +12.6 and +10.0 ‰ for DGW, SGW, and SFW respectively. At the same time, ? (13)C values of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) ranged from -12.4 to -5.7 ‰, with a mean value of -7.5, -9.0, and -9.6 ‰ for DGW, SGW, and SFW, respectively. The microbial degradation processes resulted in significant sulfur isotope fractionations in DGW. Organic carbon was utilized by bacteria and transferred into inorganic carbon, leading to negative fractionation of carbon isotopes. Thus the variations in stable isotope ratios of sulfur and carbon in groundwater can be used as good indicators for understanding of the relationship between bacteria behaviors and sulfate degradation.