Large-scale deposition of weathered oil in the Gulf of Mexico following a deep-water oil spill

TitleLarge-scale deposition of weathered oil in the Gulf of Mexico following a deep-water oil spill
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsRomero I.C, Toro-Farmer G., Diercks AR, Schwing P., Muller-Karger F, Murawski S., Hollander D.J
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Date PublishedSep
ISBN Number0269-7491
Accession NumberWOS:000405042100020
KeywordsOil and Gas Degradation
AbstractThe blowout of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling rig in 2010 released an unprecedented amount of oil at depth (1,500 m) into the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). Sedimentary geochemical data from an extensive area (similar to 194,000 km(2)) was used to characterize the amount, chemical signature, distribution, and extent of the DWH oil deposited on the seafloor in 2010-2011 from coastal to deep-sea areas in the GoM. The analysis of numerous hydrocarbon compounds (N = 158) and sediment cores (N = 2,613) suggests that, 1.9 +/- 0.9 x 10(4) metric tons of hydrocarbons (>C9 saturated and aromatic fractions) were deposited in 56% of the studied area, containing 21 +/- 10% (up to 47%) of the total amount of oil discharged and not recovered from the DWH spill. Examination of the spatial trends and chemical diagnostic ratios indicate large deposition of weathered DWH oil in coastal and deep-sea areas and negligible deposition on the continental shelf (behaving as a transition zone in the northern GoM). The large-scale analysis of deposited hydrocarbons following the DWH spill helps understanding the possible long-term fate of the released oil in 2010, including sedimentary transformation processes, redistribution of deposited hydrocarbons, and persistence in the environment as recycled petrocarbon. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.