Sulfate Reduction in Groundwater: Characterization and Applications for Remediation

Environ Geochem Health. 2012 Aug;34(4):539-50. doi: 10.1007/s10653-011-9423-1. Epub 2011 Sep 23.


Sulfate is ubiquitous in groundwater, with both natural and anthropogenic sources. Sulfate reduction reactions play a significant role in mediating redox conditions and biogeochemical processes for subsurface systems. They also serve as the basis for innovative in situ methods for groundwater remediation. An overview of sulfate reduction in subsurface environments is provided, along with a brief discussion of characterization methods and applications for addressing acid mine drainage. We then focus on two innovative, in situ methods for remediating sulfate-contaminated groundwater, the use of zero-valent iron and the addition of electron-donor substrates. The advantages and limitations associated with the methods are discussed, with examples of prior applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Groundwater / chemistry*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Mining
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Sulfates / chemistry
  • Sulfates / metabolism*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Sulfates
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Iron