Chemical composition of floating and sunken in-situ burn residues from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Scott A Stout, James R Payne
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2016 July 15, 108 (1-2): 186-202
In-situ burning during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill generated tens of thousands of barrels of in-situ burn (ISB) residues in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GoM), most or all of which eventually sank to the seafloor. Chemical analyses showed that floating and sunken (~1400m deep) ISB residues (1) exhibited distinct n-alkanes and UCM profiles inconsistent with vapor-pressure driven evaporation, (2) were relatively enriched in pyrogenic PAHs, particularly less stable (mostly) linear PAH isomers formed during burning, and (3) had lost petroleum biomarkers, relative to their volatility. PAH concentrations in ISB residues indicate that between 26,800 and 37,800kg of total PAHs (TPAH51) and 2880 and 4060kg of 16 Priority Pollutant PAHs were potentially deposited on the seafloor in discrete ISB residue particles. Despite this additional benthic impact, ISB reduced the total mass loadings of PAH from the burned oil to the GoM by 89% (ignoring any re-deposition from atmospheric emissions).

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