Long-term weathering and continued oxidation of oil residues from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Academic Article uri icon


  • To investigate the long-term weathering of oil from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident, oil-soaked sand patties were collected from Gulf of Mexico beaches from Florida to Alabama over a three-year period from 2012 to 2014. Analysis of oil residues by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID), thin-layer chromatography with flame ionization detection (TLC-FID), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) indicated uniformity in their chemical composition. Some variability within and between samples was observed, arising from differences in exposure to light and water, which increase the amount of weathering. Oxygenated hydrocarbons (OxHC) produced by weathering processes dominate the majority of oil residues. These OxHC have continued recalcitrance in the environment, and increase in relative abundance over time. Analyses of the bulk characteristics of oil residues via TLC-FID and FT-IR should be continued as these techniques provide important insight into the weathering state of oil residues.

publication date

  • December 15, 2016