Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Michael J. Barcelona

Second Advisor

Dr. James Howell

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert E. Harmon

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The identification and quantitation of aromatic acids as transformation products present in contaminated aquifer systems was studied from selected sites. These acids are formed as microbial metabolites in the oxidative degradation of aromatic compounds. The microbial activity in the subsurface can be coupled to the oxidation of the aromatic compounds and the reduction of specific inorganic indicators. Inorganic indicators identified from the sample sites include the reduced forms of iron, nitrate, sulfate, and dissolved oxygen.

The highest concentrations of the aromatic acids were found in the plumes of the contaminated sites. These concentrations also correlated with specific changes in concentrations of selected inorganic indicators. Salicylic acid, previously unidentified in contaminated aquifer systems, was found in high concentrations relative to the other aromatic acids. Decreasing concentrations of the aromatic acids were observed with an increase in distance from the plume.

This study was done to further understand the transformation and geochemical fate of specific aromatic contaminants once they enter a subsurface environment.

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