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Barbara Bekins

Research Hydrologist

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Short Biography

I study biodegradation of crude oil and nitrate contamination in groundwater.  Studies of crude oil have documented the degradation progress of crude oil in the subsurface from the time of the 1979 spill to the present. Nitrate studies focus on determining biodegradation rates of nitrate from fertilizer applications in a range of agricultural settings. I also study the generation of fluid overpressures and their effect on fault strength. Modeling studies based on data from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program examine the origin and measurement of overpressures in Barbados, Nankai, and Peru.

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Publications on subsurface microbial processes

Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, I.M. Cozzarelli, 2015, Organic contaminant transport and fate in the subsurface: Evolution of knowledge and understanding, Water Resources Research, Water Resour. Res., 51: 4861-4902, doi:10.1002/2015WR017121.  
Ng, G.-H.C., B.A. Bekins, I.M. Cozzarelli, M.J. Baedecker, P.C. Bennett, R.T. Amos, and W.N. Herkelrath, 2015, Reactive transport modeling of geochemical controls on secondary water quality impacts at a crude oil spill site near Bemidji, MN, Water Resour. Res., 51:4156–4183, doi:10.1002/2015WR016964. 
Warren, E., N. Sihota, F.D. Hostettler, B. A. Bekins, 2014, Comparison of Surficial CO2 Efflux to other Measures of Subsurface Crude Oil Degradation, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 164:275–284, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.06.006.
 Ng, G.-H. C., B. A. Bekins, I. M. Cozzarelli, M. J. Baedecker, P. C. Bennett, and R. T. Amos, 2014, A Mass Balance Approach to Investigating Geochemical Controls on Secondary Water Quality Impacts at a Crude Oil Spill Site near Bemidji, MN, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 164:1-15, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2014.04.006.
Green, C. T., B. A. Bekins, S. J. Kalkhoff, R. M. Hirsch, L. Liao, and K. K. Barnes, 2014, Decadal surface water quality trends under variable climate, land use, and hydrogeochemical setting in Iowa, USA, Water Resour. Res., 50:, 2425-2443, doi:10.1002/2013WR014829.
Hostettler, F. D. , T. D. Lorenson, and B. A. Bekins, 2013, Petroleum fingerprinting with organic markers, Environmental Forensics, 14:262-277, doi:10.1080/15275922.2013.843611
Rasa, E., B. A. Bekins, D. M. Mackay, N. R. de Sieyes, J. T. Wilson, K. P. Feris, I. A. Wood, K. M. Scow, 2013, Impacts of an ethanol-blended fuel release on groundwater and fate of produced methane: Simulation of field observations, Water Resources Research, 8:4907-4926, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20382.
Amos, R. T., B. A. Bekins, I. M. Cozzarelli, M. A. Voytek, J. D. Kirshtein, E. J. P. Jones and D. W. Blowes, 2012, Evidence for iron-mediated anaerobic methane oxidation in a crude oil-contaminated aquifer, Geobiology, 6:506-517, doi: 10.1111/j.1472-4669.2012.00341.x
Liao, L., C.T. Green, B.A. Bekins and J.K. Böhlke, 2012, Factors controlling nitrate fluxes in groundwater in agricultural areas, Water Resources Research, v. 48, doi:10.1029/2011WR011008.
Rasa, E, S.W. Chapman, SW, B.A. Bekins, G.E. Fogg, K.M. Scow, and D.M. Mackay, 2011, Role of back diffusion and biodegradation reactions in sustaining an MTBE/TBA plume in alluvial media, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology,v. 126:3-4 , pp. 235-247, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.08.006.
Baedecker, M.J., R. P. Eganhouse, B.A. Bekins, and G.N. Delin, 2011, Loss of Volatile Hydrocarbons from an LNAPL Oil Source, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, doi: 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.06.006.
Amos, R. T., B.A. Bekins, G. N. Delin, I. M. Cozzarelli, D. W. Blowes, and J. D. Kirshtein, 2011, Methane oxidation in a crude oil contaminated aquifer: Delineation of aerobic reactions at the plume fringes, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2011.04.003.
Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, W.N. Herkelrath, and G.N. Delin, 2011, Crude Oil at the Bemidji Site: 25 Years of Monitoring, Modeling, and Understanding, Ground Water, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6584.2009.00654.x.
Bekins, B.A., M.J. Baedecker, R.P. Eganhouse, and W. N. Herkelrath, 2011, Long-term natural attenuation of crude oil in the subsurface, in GQ10: Groundwater Quality Management in a Rapidly Changing World (Proc. 7th International Groundwater Quality Conference held in Zurich, Switzerland, 13–18 June 2010, E. Hoehn and M. Schirmer, eds.), IAHS Publ. 342, 123-127. 
Green, C.T., J.K. Böhlke, B.A. Bekins, and S.P. Phillips, 2010, Mixing effects on apparent reaction rates and isotope fractionation during denitrification in a heterogeneous aquifer: Water Resources Research, v. 46, W08525, doi:10.1029/2009WR008903.
Molins, S., K.U. Mayer, R.T. Amos, B.A. Bekins, 2010, Vadose Zone Attenuation of Organic Compounds at a Crude Oil Spill Site - Interactions between Biogeochemical Reactions and Multicomponent Gas Transport, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 112, 15–29, doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2009.09.002.
Cozzarelli, I.M., B.A. Bekins, R.P. Eganhouse, E. Warren, and H.I. Essaid, 2010, In situ measurements of volatile aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation rates in groundwater, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, v. 111, p.48–64.
Aiello, I.W. and B.A. Bekins, 2010. Milankovitch-scale correlations between deeply buried microbial populations and blogenic ooze lithology. Geology, 38(1): 79-82.
Green, C.T., L.H. Fisher, and B.A. Bekins, 2008, Nitrogen fluxes through unsaturated zones in five agricultural settings across the United States: Journal of Environmental Quality, v. 37, p. 1073-1085. 
Green, C.T., L.J. Puckett, J.K. Böhlke, B.A. Bekins, S.P. Phillips, L.J. Kauffman, J.M. Denver, and H.M. Johnson, 2008, Limited occurrence of denitrification in four shallow aquifers in agricultural areas of the United States: Journal of Environmental Quality, v. 37, p. 994-1009. 
Hostettler, F., B.A. Bekins, C. Rostad, W. Herkelrath, 2008, Response to Commentary on Observed Methanogenic Biodegradation Progressions: Environmental Forensics, v. 9, p. 121–126.
Hostettler, F.D., Y. Wang, Y. Huang, W. Cao, B.A. Bekins, C.E. Rostad, C.F. Kulpa, and A. Laursen, 2007, Forensic fingerprinting of oil-spill hydrocarbons in a methanogenic environment--Mandan, ND and Bemidji, MN: Environmental Forensics, v. 8, p. 139-153.
Bekins, B.A., I. M. Cozzarelli, and G. P. Curtis, 2005, A simple method for calculating growth rates of petroleum hydrocarbon plumes, Ground Water, v. 43, no. 6, 817-826.
Green, C.T., D.A. Stonestrom, B.A. Bekins, K.C. Akstin. 2005. Recharge and transport processes in a sandy soil in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Water Resources Research. 41(10) W10414 doi:10.1029/2005WR004061.
Bekins, B.A., F.D. Hostettler, W.N. Herkelrath, G.N. Delin, E. Warren, and H.I. Essaid, 2005, Progression of methanogenic degradation of crude oil in the subsurface, Environmental Geosciences, 12(2):139-152.
Amos, R.T., K.U. Mayer, B.A. Bekins, G.N. Delin, and R.L. Williams, 2005, Use of dissolved and vapor-phase gases to investigate methanogenic degradation of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in the subsurface, Water Resources Research, 41, doi:10.1029/2004WR003433.
Rittmann, B.E., F. Kremer, and B.A. Bekins, 2004, MNA Forum: A panel discussion, Remediation Journal, 14(2):155-160.
Warren, E., B.A. Bekins, E.M. Godsy, and V. Smith, 2003, Inhibition of acetoclastic methanogenesis in crude oil- and creosote-contaminated groundwater, Bioremediation Journal, 7(3-4), 139-149.
Essaid, H.I., I.M. Cozzarelli, R.P. Eganhouse, W.N. Herkelrath, B.A. Bekins and G. Delin, 2003, Inverse modeling of BTEX dissolution and biodegradation at the Bemidji, MN crude-oil spill site, J. Contam. Hydrol., 67:269-299.
Bekins, B.A., I.M. Cozzarelli, E. Warren, E. M. Godsy, 2002, Microbial ecology of a crude-oil contaminated aquifer, in Groundwater Quality: Natural and Enhanced Restoration of Groundwater Pollution, S.F. Thornton and S. E. Oswald (eds.), International Association of Hydrological Sciences Publication 275, 57-63.
Bekins, B.A., I.M. Cozzarelli, E.M. Godsy, E. Warren, H.I. Essaid, and M.E. Tuccillo, 2001, Progression of natural attenuation processes at a crude oil spill site II. Controls on spatial distribution of microbial populations, J. Contam. Hydrol., 53:387-406.
Cozzarelli, I.M., B.A. Bekins, M.J. Baedecker, G.R. Aiken, and R.P. Eganhouse, and M.E. Tuccillo, 2001, Progression of natural attenuation processes at a crude-oil spill site I. Geochemical evolution of the plume, J. Contam. Hydrol., 53: 369-385.
Bekins, B.A., B.E. Rittmann, J.A. MacDonald, 2001, Natural attenuation strategy for groundwater cleanup focuses on demonstrating cause and effect, Eos, Transactions, AGU, January 30, 2001, 82, 5, pp. 53, 57-58.
National Research Council, 2000, Natural Attenuation for Groundwater Remediation, National Academy Press, 274 pp.
Haack, S.K. and B.A. Bekins, 2000, Microbial populations in contaminant plumes, Hydrogeology Journal, 8: 63-76.
Bekins, B.A., E.M. Godsy, and E. Warren, 1999, Distribution of microbial physiologic types in an aquifer contaminated by crude oil, Microbial Ecology. 37:263-275.
Bekins, B.A., Ean Warren, and E.M. Godsy, 1998, A comparison of zero-order, first-order, and Monod biotransformation models, Ground Water. 36:261-268.
Essaid, H.I., B.A. Bekins, E.M. Godsy, Ean Warren, M.J. Baedecker, and I.M. Cozzarelli, 1995, Simulation of aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation processes at a crude-oil spill site. Water Resources Research, 31:3309-3327.
Bekins, B.A., E.M. Godsy, and D.F. Goerlitz, 1993, Modeling steady-state methanogenic degradation of phenols in ground water. J. Contam. Hydrol.. 14: 279-294.

Publications on fluids and geologic processes

Weingarten, M., S. Ge, J. W. Godt, B. A. Bekins, J. L. Rubinstein, 2015, High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity, Science Vol. 348  no. 6241  pp. 1336-1340,  doi: 10.1126/science.aab1345. 
McGarr, A., B. Bekins ,N. Burkardt, J. Dewey ,P. Earle, W. Ellsworth ,S. Ge, S. Hickman, A. Holland, E. Majer, J. Rubinstein,  A. Sheehan, 2015, Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection, Science, Vol. 347, no. 6224, pp. 830-831, doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0494.
Keranen, K. M., M. Weingarten, G. A. Abers, B. A. Bekins, S. Ge, 2014, Sharp increase in central Oklahoma seismicity since 2008 induced by massive wastewater injection, Science, 25 July 2014: Vol. 345  no. 6195,  pp. 448-451, doi: 10.1126/science.1255802.
Bekins, B.A., 2012, Book Review, Earthquakes and Water, by Wang, C.-Y. and Manga, M., Geofluids, 12:261-263, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-8123.2012.00366.x.
Bekins, B.A., Matmon, D., Screaton, E.J. and Brown, K.M., 2011, Reanalysis of in situ permeability measurements in the Barbados décollement. Geofluids, 11(1): 57-70, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-8123.2010.00310.x.
Gamage, K., E. J. Screaton, B.A. Bekins, I. W. Aiello, 2010, Permeability-porosity relations of subduction zone sediments, Marine Geology, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2010.10.010.
Fulton, P.M., D.M. Saffer, B.A. Bekins, 2009, A critical evaluation of crustal dehydration as the cause of an overpressured and weak San Andreas Fault, Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 284, 447–454, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2009.05.009.
Bekins, B.A. and E.J. Screaton, 2007, Pore pressure and fluid flow in the Northern Barbados Accretionary Complex: A synthesis, in "The Seismogenic Zone of Subduction Thrust Faults”, MARGINS Theoretical and Experimental Earth Science Series, v. 2, T. Dixon and J. C. Moore Editors. Columbia University Press, p. 148–170.
Bekins, B.A., A.J. Spivack, E.E. Davis, L.A. Mayer, 2007, Dissolution of biogenic ooze over basement edifices in the equatorial Pacific with implications for hydrothermal ventilation of the oceanic crust, Geology, v. 35; no. 8; p. 679–682.
Matmon, D., and B.A. Bekins, 2006, Hydromechanics of a high taper angle, low-permeability prism: A case study from Peru, J. Geophys. Res., 111, B07101, doi:10.1029/2005JB003697.
Saffer, D. M., and B.A. Bekins, 2006, An evaluation of factors influencing pore pressure in accretionary complexes: Implications for taper angle and wedge mechanics, J. Geophys. Res., 111, B04101, doi:10.1029/2005JB003990.
Fulton, P., D. Saffer, R. Harris, and B.A. Bekins, 2004, Re-evaluation of heat flow data near Parkfield, CA:  Evidence for a weak San Andreas Fault:  Geophysical Research Letters, v. 31, doi:10.1029/2003GL019378.
Saffer, D.M., B.A. Bekins, and S. Hickman, 2003, Topographically driven groundwater flow and the San Andreas heat flow paradox revisited, J. Geophys. Res., 108, 2274, doi:10.1029/2002JB001849.
Ge, S., B.A. Bekins, J.Bredehoeft, K. Brown, E.E. Davis, S.M. Gorelick, P. Henry, H. Kooi, A.F. Moench, C. Ruppel, M. Sauter, E. Screaton, P.K. Swart, T. Tokunaga, C.I. Voss, and F.Whitaker, 2003, Fluid flow in sub-sea floor processes and future ocean drilling, EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 84(16) p.145, 151-152.
Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 2002, Hydrologic controls on the morphology and mechanics of accretionary wedges, Geology, 30:271-274.
Brown, K.B., D.M. Saffer, and B.A. Bekins, 2001, Smectite diagenesis, pore-water freshening, and fluid flow at the toe of the Nankai wedge, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 194:97-109.
Stauffer, P., and B.A. Bekins, 2001, Modeling consolidation and dewatering near the toe of the northern Barbados accretionary complex J. Geophys. Res., 106:6,369-6,383.
Moore, J. C., A. Klaus, N. L. Bangs, B.A. Bekins, et al., 1998, Proc. ODP Init. Repts., 171: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program).
Moore, J.C., A. Klaus, N.L. Bangs, B.A. Bekins, et al., 1998, Consolidation patterns during initiation and evolution of a plate boundary decollement zone: Northern Barbados accretionary prism. Geology, 26:811-814.
Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 1999, Fluid budgets at convergent plate margins: Implications for the extent and duration of fault zone dilation. Geology, 27:1095-1098. 
Saffer, D.M. and B.A. Bekins, 1998, Episodic fluid flow in the Nankai Accretionary Complex: Timescale, geochemistry, flow rates, and fluid budget. J. Geophys. Res., 103:30,351-30,370.
Bekins, B.A., A.M. McCaffrey, and S.J. Dreiss, 1995, Episodic and constant flow models for the origin of low chloride pore waters in a modern accretionary complex. Water Resources Research, 31:3205-3215.
Bekins, B.A., A.M. McCaffrey, and S.J. Dreiss, 1994, The influence of kinetics on the smectite to illite transition in the Barbados accretionary prism. J. Geophys. Res., 99:18,147-18,158.
Brown, K.M., B.A. Bekins, B. Clennell, D. Dewhurst, and G. Westbrook, 1994, Heterogeneous hydrofracture development and accretionary fault dynamics. Geology, 22:259-262. 
Bekins, B.A. and S.J. Dreiss, 1992, A simplified analysis of parameters controlling dewatering in accretionary prisms. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 109:275-287.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Water Resourcesground-water quality
Geologic Processesplate tectonics

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

The Role of Environment and Wildlife in Human Health

A Water Census of the United States

A National Hazard, Risk, and Resilience Assessment Program

Contact Information

Barbara Bekins
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-329-4463 - Fax
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