Practical aspects of chemometrics for oil spill fingerprinting

Jan H Christensen, Giorgio Tomasi
Journal of Chromatography. A 2007 October 26, 1169 (1-2): 1-22
Tiered approaches for oil spill fingerprinting have evolved rapidly since the 1990s. Chemometrics provides a large number of tools for pattern recognition, calibration and classification that can increase the speed and the objectivity of the analysis and allow for more extensive use of the available data in this field. However, although the chemometric literature is extensive, it does not focus on practical issues that are relevant to oil spill fingerprinting. The aim of this review is to provide a framework for the use of chemometric approaches in tiered oil spill fingerprinting and to provide clear-cut practical details and experiences that can be used by the forensic chemist. The framework is based on methods for initial screening, which include classification of samples into oil type, detection of non matches and of weathering state, and detailed oil spill fingerprinting, in which a more rigorous matching of an oil spill sample to suspected source oils is obtained. This review is intended as a tutorial, and is based on two examples of initial screening using respectively gas chromatography with flame ionization detection and fluorescence spectroscopy; and two of detailed oil spill fingerprinting where gas chromatography-mass spectrometry data are analyzed according to two approaches: The first relying on sections of processed chromatograms and the second on diagnostic ratios.

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