Geophysical methods for monitoring soil stabilization processes.
ABSTRACT: Soil stabilization involves methods used to turn unconsolidated and unstable soil into a stiffer, consolidated medium that could support engineered structures, alter permeability, change subsurface flow, or immobilize contamination through mineral precipitation. Among the variety of available methods carbonate precipitation is a very promising one, especially when it is being induced through common soil borne microbes (MICP - microbial induced carbonate precipitation). Such microbial mediated precipitation has the added benefit of not harming the environment as other methods can be environmentally detrimental. Carbonate precipitation, typically in the form of calcite, is a naturally occurring process that can be manipulated to deliver the expected soil strengthening results or permeability changes. This study investigates the ability of spectral induced polarization and shear-wave velocity for monitoring calcite driven soil strengthening processes. The results support the use of these geophysical methods as soil strengthening characterization and long term monitoring tools, which is a requirement for viable soil stabilization projects. Both tested methods are sensitive to calcite precipitation, with SIP offering additional information related to long term stability of precipitated carbonate. Carbonate precipitation has been confirmed with direct methods, such as direct sampling and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). This study advances our understanding of soil strengthening processes and permeability alterations, and is a crucial step for the use of geophysical methods as monitoring tools in microbial induced soil alterations through carbonate precipitation.
Project description:Microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is an alternative to existing soil stabilization techniques for construction and erosion. As with any biologically induced process in soils or aquifers, it is important to track changes in the microbial communities that occur as a result of the treatment. Our research assessed how native microbial communities developed in response to injections of reactants (dilute molasses as a carbon source; urea as a source of nitrogen and alkalinity) that promoted MICP in a shallow aquifer. Microbial community composition (16S rRNA gene) and ureolytic potential (ureC gene copy numbers) were also measured in groundwater and artificial sediment. Aquifer geochemistry showed evidence of sulfate reduction, nitrification, denitrification, ureolysis, and iron reduction during the treatment. The observed changes in geochemistry corresponded to microbial community succession in the groundwater and this matched parallel geophysical and mineralogical evidence of calcite precipitation in the aquifer. We detected an increase in the number of ureC genes in the microbial communities at the end of the injection period, suggesting an increase in the abundance of microbes possessing this gene as needed to hydrolyze urea and stimulate MICP. We identify geochemical and biological markers that highlight the microbial community response that can be used along with geophysical and geotechnical evidence to assess progress of MICP.
Project description:Mineral precipitation via microbial activity is a well-known process with applications in various fields. This relevance of microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) has pushed researchers to explore various naturally occurring MICP capable bacterial strains. The present study was performed to explore the efficiency of microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) via locally isolated bacterial strains and role of guar gum, which is a naturally occurring polymer, on the MICP process. The strains were isolated from local soil and screened for urease activity Further, the urease positive strain was subjected to urea and calcium chloride based medium to investigate the efficacy of isolated strain for microbial induced precipitation. Among screened isolates, the soil bacterium that showed urease positive behaviour and precipitated calcium carbonate was subjected to 16S rRNA gene sequencing. This strain was identified as Bacillus velezensis. Guar gum-a natural polymer, was used as a sole carbon source to enhance the MICP process. It was observed that the isolated strain was able to breakdown the guar gum into simple sugars resulting in two-fold increase in calcium carbonate precipitate. Major bio-chemical activities of isolated strain pertaining to MICP such as ammonium ion concentration, pH profiling, and total reducing sugar with time were explored under four different concentrations of guar gum (0.25%, 0.5%, 0.75% and 1% w/v). Maximum ammonium ion concentration (17.5 ?g/ml) and increased pH was observed with 1% guar gum supplementation, which confirms augmented MICP activity of the bacterial strain. Microstructural analysis of microbial precipitation was performed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques, which confirmed the presence of calcium carbonate in different phases. Further, XRD and SEM based studies corroborated that guar gum supplemented media showed significant increase in stable calcite phase as compared to media without guar gum supplementation. Significant diverse group of nitrogenous compounds were observed in guar gum supplemented medium when subjected to Gas Chromatography-Mass spectrometry (GC-MS) profiling.
Project description:Biomineralization is a known natural phenomenon associated with a wide range of bacterial species. Bacterial-induced calcium carbonate precipitation by marine isolates was investigated in this study. Three genera of ureolytic bacteria, Sporosarcina sp., Bacillus sp. and Brevundimonas sp. were observed to precipitate calcium carbonate minerals. Of these species, Sporosarcina sp. dominated the cultured isolates. B. lentus CP28 generated higher urease activity and facilitated more efficient precipitation of calcium carbonate at 3.24 ± 0.25 × 10(-4) mg/cell. X-ray diffraction indicated that the dominant calcium carbonate phase was calcite. Scanning electron microscopy showed that morphologies of the minerals were dominated by cubic, rhombic and polygonal plate-like crystals. The dynamic process of microbial calcium carbonate precipitation revealed that B. lentus CP28 precipitated calcite crystals through the enzymatic hydrolysis of urea, and that when ammonium ion concentrations reached 746 mM and the pH reached 9.6, that favored calcite precipitation at a higher level of 96 mg/L. The results of this research provide evidence that a variety of marine bacteria can induce calcium carbonate precipitation, and may influence the marine carbonate cycle in natural environments.
Project description:Sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) in deep geological saline aquifers is needed to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions; monitoring the mechanical integrity of reservoir formations is essential for effective and safe operations. Clogging of fluid transport pathways in rocks from CO2-induced salt precipitation reduces injectivity and potentially compromises the reservoir storage integrity through pore fluid pressure build-up. Here, we show that early warning of salt precipitation can be achieved through geophysical remote sensing. From elastic P- and S-wave velocity and electrical resistivity monitoring during controlled laboratory CO2 injection experiments into brine-saturated quartz-sandstone of high porosity (29%) and permeability (1660 mD), and X-ray CT imaging of pore-scale salt precipitation, we were able to observe, for the first time, how CO2-induced salt precipitation leads to detectable geophysical signatures. We inferred salt-induced rock changes from (i) strain changes, (ii) a permanent?~?1.5% decrease in wave velocities, linking the geophysical signatures to salt volume fraction through geophysical models, and (iii) increases of porosity (by?~?6%) and permeability (~?7%). Despite over 10% salt saturation, no clogging effects were observed, which suggests salt precipitation could extend to large sub-surface regions without loss of CO2 injectivity into high porosity and permeability saline sandstone aquifers.
Project description:The optimization of enzyme-mediated calcite precipitation was evaluated as a soil-improvement technique. In our previous works, purified urease was utilized to bio-catalyze the hydrolysis of urea, which causes the supplied Ca(2+) to precipitate with [Formula: see text] as calcium carbonate. In the present work, magnesium chloride was newly added to the injecting solutions to delay the reaction rate and to enhance the amount of carbonate precipitation. Soil specimens were prepared in PVC cylinders and treated with concentration-controlled solutions composed of urea, urease, calcium, and magnesium chloride. The mechanical properties of the treated soil specimens were examined through unconfined compressive strength (UCS) tests. A precipitation ratio of the carbonate up to 90% of the maximum theoretical precipitation was achieved by adding a small amount of magnesium chloride. Adding magnesium chloride as a delaying agent was indeed found to reduce the reaction rate of the precipitation, which may increase the volume of the treated soil if used in real fields because of the slower precipitation rate and the resulting higher injectivity. A mineralogical analysis revealed that magnesium chloride decreases the crystal size of the precipitated materials and that another carbonate of aragonite is newly formed. Mechanical test results indicated that carbonate precipitates within the soils and brings about a significant improvement in strength. A maximum UCS of 0.6 MPa was obtained from the treated samples.
Project description:Natural mineral formations are a window into important processes leading to carbon storage and mineralized carbonate structures formed through abiotic and biotic processes. In the current study, we made an attempt to undertake a comprehensive approach to characterize the mineralogical, mechanical, and microbial properties of different kinds of speleothems from karstic caves; with an aim to understand the bio-geo-chemical processes in speleothem structures and their impact on nanomechanical properties. We also investigated the biomineralization abilities of speleothem surface associated microbial communities in vitro. Mineralogical profiling using techniques such as X-ray powder Diffraction (XRD) and Tescan Integrated Mineral Analyzer (TIMA) demonstrated that calcite was the dominant mineral in the majority of speleothems with Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis (EDS) indicating a few variations in the elemental components. Differing proportions of polymorphs of calcium carbonate such as aragonite and vaterite were also recorded. Significant variations in trace metal content were recorded through Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS). Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis revealed differences in morphological features of the crystals which varied from triangular prismatic shapes to etched spiky forms. Microbial imprints and associations were seen in a few sections. Analysis of the associated microbial diversity showed significant differences between various speleothems at Phylum level; although Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria were found to be the predominant groups. Genus level microbial associations showed a relationship with the geochemistry, mineralogical composition, and metal content of the speleothems. The assessment of nanomechanical properties measured by Nanoindentation revealed that the speleothems with a dominance of calcite were stronger than the speleothems with mixed calcium carbonate polymorphs and silica content. The in vitro metabolic activity of the microbial communities associated with the surfaces of the speleothems resulted in calcium carbonate crystal precipitation. Firmicutes and Proteobacteria dominated these populations, in contrast to the populations seen in natural systems. The precipitation of calcium carbonate crystals in vitro indicated that microbial metabolic activity may also play an important role in the synthesis and dissociation of biominerals in the natural environment. Our study provides novel evidence of the close relationship between mineralogy, microbial ecology, geochemistry, and nanomechanical properties of natural formations.
Project description:Bio-grout, a new ground improvement method, has been recently developed to improve the mechanical properties, decrease the permeability of porous materials, reinforce or repair cementitious materials and modify the properties of soil or sand. Bio-grout production depends on microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP), which is driven mainly by an enzyme, urease. However, urease-based MICP process produces excessive ammonia, in addition to secondary pollution generated by urea that is used as substrate in it. In the present study, we reported asparaginase-based MICP process for sand bio-grout development using Bacillus megaterium, and results were also compared with urease-based bio-grouts. The asparaginase activity led to significantly less ammonia production compared to urease without compromising with desired properties of a novel grout. The UCS of bio-grout was obtained at 980 kPa, while the permeability was decreased substantially. The mineralogical composition of precipitated substance was identified as calcite using XRD and the crystal morphology was observed under SEM. The mass percentage of calcite in bio-grout was calculated by thermogravimetric analysis and XCT verified calcite precipitation in it. The results confirmed that biocalcification by means of bacterial asparaginase is a potential solution for geotechnical problems. The asparaginase-based MICP process could be of wider acceptance in future.
Project description:Simple plugging of the high-permeability "thief zones" of oil reservoirs is the most plausible and also the most straightforwardly achievable approach to enhance sweep efficiency and oil recovery. Sporosarcina pasteurii is a representative microorganism with the ability to precipitate calcium carbonate (CaCO3) via enzymatic hydrolysis of urea in the presence of calcium ions. Microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) can cement and seal the granular and fractured media and thus can be used as a potential microbial plugging agent for the high-permeability zones of oil reservoirs. The following investigated the microscopic characteristics of MICP plugging and its efficacy in permeability reduction. The columns of near-spherical silica sand and angular silica sand with three separate granularities (40/60, 60/80, and 80/120 mesh) were used as artificial rock cores representing distinct pore sizes and pore characteristics to investigate the efficacy and microprocess of MICP plugging with different biotreatment periods. The results indicated that permeability is reduced significantly after only short periods of biotreatment. After eight cycles of MICP treatments, the permeability for each type of cores dropped by 54-90% of individual initial permeabilities. The measured CaCO3 content indicated that the decreasing rate in permeability with the increasing CaCO3 content experiences three contrasting stages, namely, slow decline, speedy decline, and plateauing. X-ray diffraction indicated that most of the generated CaCO3 crystals occur as vaterite with only a small amount of calcite. Imaging by scanning electron microscopy further revealed the microprocess of MICP plugging. Microorganisms first concentrate on the pore wall to secrete CaCO3, forming a thin and large uniform layer of CaCO3. Then, some nucleation sites of CaCO3 crystals will experience further preferential growth, resulting in large, dominant crystals that act as a plugging agent within the pore space. Compared to extracellular polymeric substances, which are currently the primary microbial plugging agent used to enhance sweep efficiency of oil reservoirs, bio-CaCO3 appears more effective in plugging in terms of its morphology, size, and growth characteristics.
Project description:The calcium carbonate shells of planktic foraminifera provide our most valuable geochemical archive of ocean surface conditions and climate spanning the last 100 million years, and play an important role in the ocean carbon cycle. These shells are preserved in marine sediments as calcite, the stable polymorph of calcium carbonate. Here, we show that shells of living planktic foraminifers Orbulina universa and Neogloboquadrina dutertrei originally form from the unstable calcium carbonate polymorph vaterite, implying a non-classical crystallisation pathway involving metastable phases that transform ultimately to calcite. The current understanding of how planktic foraminifer shells record climate, and how they will fare in a future high-CO<sub>2</sub> world is underpinned by analogy to the precipitation and dissolution of inorganic calcite. Our findings require a re-evaluation of this paradigm to consider the formation and transformation of metastable phases, which could exert an influence on the geochemistry and solubility of the biomineral calcite.
Project description:Microbe-mineral interactions are ubiquitous and can facilitate major biogeochemical reactions that drive dynamic Earth processes such as rock formation. One example is microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) in which microbial activity leads to the formation of calcium carbonate precipitates. A majority of MICP studies have been conducted at the mesoscale but fundamental questions persist regarding the mechanisms of cell encapsulation and mineral polymorphism. Here, we are the first to investigate and characterize precipitates on the microscale formed by MICP starting from single ureolytic E. coli MJK2 cells in 25 µm diameter drops. Mineral precipitation was observed over time and cells surrounded by calcium carbonate precipitates were observed under hydrated conditions. Using Raman microspectroscopy, amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) was observed first in the drops, followed by vaterite formation. ACC and vaterite remained stable for up to 4 days, possibly due to the presence of organics. The vaterite precipitates exhibited a dense interior structure with a grainy exterior when examined using electron microscopy. Autofluorescence of these precipitates was observed possibly indicating the development of a calcite phase. The developed approach provides an avenue for future investigations surrounding fundamental processes such as precipitate nucleation on bacteria, microbe-mineral interactions, and polymorph transitions.