Oxygenated weathering products of Deepwater Horizon oil come from surprising precursors

Following the release of crude oil from the Macondo well in 2010, a wide range of weathering processes acted on the spilled oil. A recent study revealed that samples from this spill were oxidized into oxygenated hydrocarbons (OxHC) comprising more than 50% of the extracted hydrocarbons. The precursors of these compounds were not identified despite using a wide range of analytical tools, including gas chromatography (GC). To search for these precursors, over 40 samples were analyzed by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC x GC), one of the largest studies of its kind to date. Partial least squares regression was employed to elucidate the GC x GC peaks that could be the precursors of OxHC in our samples. We found that the formation of OxHC correlated with the disappearance of saturated hydrocarbons, including alkylcyclopentanes, alkyl cyclohexanes, alkylated bicyclic saturated compounds, tricyclic terpanpoids, and alkylbenzenes. These results indicate a previously under-reported chemodynamic process in oil spill weathering. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Published in:
Marine Pollution Bulletin, 75, 1-2, 140-149
Oxford, Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

 Record created 2014-01-09, last modified 2018-03-17

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