Microbial and Geochemical Dynamics of an Aquifer Stimulated for Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP)

J. A. Ohan, S. Saneiyan, J. Lee, Andrew W. Bartlow, D. Ntarlagiannis, S. E. Burns, Frederick S. Colwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1327
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - Jun 16 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


  • biocementation
  • biomineralization
  • biostimulation
  • microbial induced calcite precipitation (MICP)
  • soil stabilization


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