Iron-Related Bacterial Activity Reaction Tester - The IRB BARTS

The corrosion of steel components by IRB can be an amazingly fast process in geological environments as shown here is a stainless steel head-piece of an air displacement pump briefly used in dewatering a WA gold mine; it lasted 3 months from new until these corrosion pits extended into the pumps interior, and operation failed. This pump piece has been extensively cleaned of a red iron mud created by the IRB while electron-accepting solutes in the groundwater were reduced, all in anoxic conditions initially created by the settling of fines from in the borewater onto this surface - the top of the pump.  The IRB then grew on the steel beneath a muddy cover.

While pump manufacturers can now provide simple designs of pumps from more stable steels that remain passive even in the absence of the oxygen (ambient oxygen at the metal surface would have protected this piece of 316 stainless steel), hydrogeologists looking to economically operate de-watering borefields may need to check water conditions and for the activity of IRB before selecting pumps.