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The distribution and environmental fate of petroleum hydrocarbons introduced into the nearshore environment of Cape Hatt, Baffin Island, Canada, during two controlled experimental discharges of a Venezuelan (Lagomedio) crude oil have been studied. An analytical program based on a combination of ultraviolet/fluorescence studies, high resolution gas chromatography, and computer-assisted gas chromatographic mass spectrometry has been used to examine several hundred oil, seawater, sediment, sediment trap, surface floc, and benthic animal (seven species) samples to determine the distribution, transport, and weathering of oil spilled in two scenarios: as untreated oil on the surface and as chemically dispersed oil discharged below the surface. Conclusions are drawn about the weathering of oil in the two scenarios, transport of low and high molecular weight hydrocarbons into the water column and their persistence, the sedimentation of oil, the incorporation of oil into the sediment via sedimentation onto the surface floc and direct penetration of the sediment/water interface, and the uptake and depuration of untreated and chemically dispersed oils by seven species of filter feeders and deposit feeders in the subtidal benthos.
dispersant, oil spill, crude oil, environmental fate, transport process, Arctic nearshore benthos
research leader, Battelle New England Marine Research Laboratory, Duxbury, MA