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A Tale of Two Recent Spills — Comparison of 2014 Galveston Bay and 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Residues

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Managing oil spill residues washing onto sandy beaches is a common worldwide environmental problem. In this study, we have analyzed the first-arrival oil spill residues collected from two Gulf of Mexico (GOM) beach systems following two recent oil spills: the 2014 Galveston Bay (GB) oil spill, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. This is the first study to provide field observations and chemical characterization data for the 2014 GB oil spill. Here we compare the physical and chemical characteristics of GB oil spill samples with DWH oil spill samples and present their similarities and differences. Our field observations indicate that both oil spills had similar shoreline deposition patterns; however, their physical and chemical characteristics differed considerably. We highlight these differences, discuss their implications, and interpret GB data in light of lessons learned from previously published DWH oil spill studies. These analyses are further used to assess the long-term fate of GB oil spill residues and their potential environmental impacts.

No MeSH data available.


Comparison of extracted ion chromatograms of n-alkanes (m/z of 57) for Galveston Bay and Deepwater Horizon oil spill residues.
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pone.0118098.g004: Comparison of extracted ion chromatograms of n-alkanes (m/z of 57) for Galveston Bay and Deepwater Horizon oil spill residues.

Mentions: Fig. 4 shows the n-alkane chromatograms (m/z 57) of GB and DWH oil spill residues. The chromatogram for GB residues indicates the presence of n-alkane compounds ranging from C13 to C29. In comparison, the n-alkane profile for DWH oil residue was relatively narrow indicating the presence of compounds ranging from C16 to C30, and the lighter alkanes were absent in this sample. From literature data we know that unweathered DWH crude oil contained a wide range of n-alkanes starting from C9 [16]. Therefore, absence of light n-alkanes (i.e., compounds below C16) in the DWH first-arrival sample is due to ocean-scale weathering effects. The DWH samples were recovered about 50 days after the accident. During this period, the oil traveled over 175 km in marine waters with ocean-scale weathering processes selectively depleting most of the light n-alkanes. In contrast, the GB samples were recovered seven days post-accident; the oil traveled only about 2–3 km and experienced very little natural weathering; hence, the relative distribution of light n-alkanes are expected to be high in these samples. Also, both residues were collected during a similar season (around spring) from beaches with similar water temperatures. Thus, residence time in the marine environment is likely the primary driver for oil evaporation, with temperature playing a minor role [17].


A Tale of Two Recent Spills — Comparison of 2014 Galveston Bay and 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Residues
Comparison of extracted ion chromatograms of n-alkanes (m/z of 57) for Galveston Bay and Deepwater Horizon oil spill residues.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4340883&req=5

pone.0118098.g004: Comparison of extracted ion chromatograms of n-alkanes (m/z of 57) for Galveston Bay and Deepwater Horizon oil spill residues.
Mentions: Fig. 4 shows the n-alkane chromatograms (m/z 57) of GB and DWH oil spill residues. The chromatogram for GB residues indicates the presence of n-alkane compounds ranging from C13 to C29. In comparison, the n-alkane profile for DWH oil residue was relatively narrow indicating the presence of compounds ranging from C16 to C30, and the lighter alkanes were absent in this sample. From literature data we know that unweathered DWH crude oil contained a wide range of n-alkanes starting from C9 [16]. Therefore, absence of light n-alkanes (i.e., compounds below C16) in the DWH first-arrival sample is due to ocean-scale weathering effects. The DWH samples were recovered about 50 days after the accident. During this period, the oil traveled over 175 km in marine waters with ocean-scale weathering processes selectively depleting most of the light n-alkanes. In contrast, the GB samples were recovered seven days post-accident; the oil traveled only about 2–3 km and experienced very little natural weathering; hence, the relative distribution of light n-alkanes are expected to be high in these samples. Also, both residues were collected during a similar season (around spring) from beaches with similar water temperatures. Thus, residence time in the marine environment is likely the primary driver for oil evaporation, with temperature playing a minor role [17].

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Managing oil spill residues washing onto sandy beaches is a common worldwide environmental problem. In this study, we have analyzed the first-arrival oil spill residues collected from two Gulf of Mexico (GOM) beach systems following two recent oil spills: the 2014 Galveston Bay (GB) oil spill, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. This is the first study to provide field observations and chemical characterization data for the 2014 GB oil spill. Here we compare the physical and chemical characteristics of GB oil spill samples with DWH oil spill samples and present their similarities and differences. Our field observations indicate that both oil spills had similar shoreline deposition patterns; however, their physical and chemical characteristics differed considerably. We highlight these differences, discuss their implications, and interpret GB data in light of lessons learned from previously published DWH oil spill studies. These analyses are further used to assess the long-term fate of GB oil spill residues and their potential environmental impacts.

No MeSH data available.