Soil CO2 efflux as early response assessment for remediation of diesel polluted soils

María José Fernández Alonso, Carlos Ortiz Oñate, Luis Gómez Fernández, Agustín Rubio Sánchez


Soil contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons constitutes a considerable environmental risk due to their toxicity. In recent decades, several biological and chemical technologies have been developed for remediating in situ soils and waters affected by leakages of diesel fuel. The aim of this study is to assess the soil CO2 efflux as an early measuring tool of the effectiveness of these remediation treatments applied in situ on diesel polluted soils. The study site was located in a tidal salt marsh ecosystem in the Cádiz Bay, where two zones were distinguished according to the level of diesel pollutant (high-polluted and low-polluted areas). In the high-polluted area, three remediation technologies (phytoremediation, bioremediation, and chemical oxidation) were applied individually as well as in combination in order to identify synergies that improve the decontamination performance. The specific objectives of the study were (1) to determine soil CO2 efflux in a diesel polluted tidal salt marsh under a Mediterranean climate; (2) to examine the relationships between soil moisture content, temperature and soil CO2 efflux; (3) to test whether the different remediation treatments promote an early response in soil CO2 efflux. The initial results showed a positive correlation between soil temperature fluctuations and soil CO2 efflux in the low-polluted area of the marsh, but no significant relationships were detected in the high-polluted area. On average, remediation treatments lead to greater soil CO2 efflux rates (81.3 and 294.8 mg CO2-C m-2 h-1 before and after treatment implementations respectively). Of all the remediation treatments, only those plots in which pure biological treatments were employed (phytobarrier, phytoremediation and bioremediation) displayed a clear early response in soil CO2 efflux.

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