Division of Spill Prevention and Response


Tactic TR-5: Aeration

The primary purpose of aeration is to increase oxygen levels in subsurface soils to enhance degradation of hydrocarbons by soil microbes. Aeration can also improve growing conditions for plants.

Soils may be aerated manually or mechanically, depending on the size and topography of the affected area. Aerate soils manually by repeatedly driving a pitchfork through the tundra root mat and into the organic soil. Aerate soils mechanically by pushing or pulling a rotating barrel fitted with tines over the tundra (Fig. 84). Tines should be long enough to penetrate the root mat and reach the organic soil horizon. Tilling (Tactic TR-6) can also be used to aerate soils. Draining water (Tactic TR-1) from low spots will help aerate soils because the removal of subsurface water will allow air to infiltrate into the subsurface soil (Fig. 85).


Figure 84. Aerating tundra mechanically


Figure 85. Dewatering to aerate soil

Considerations and Limitations

  • Mechanical aeration (with a rotating barrel) may not be practicable in tussock tundra or in tundra with flooded troughs.
  • Use of vehicles on tundra must comply with applicable tundra travel policies (Tactic P-5).

Equipment, Materials, and Personnel

  • Pitchfork (1 worker) – to punch holes through tundra surface.
  • Rotating barrel with tines (1 operator) – to punch holes through tundra surface.
  • Vehicle approved for summer tundra travel
    (1 operator) – to pull rotating barrel over tundra surface.

Updated: 12/20/2010