40 Years of Weathering of Coastal Oil Residues in the Southern Gulf of Mexico

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Book Chapter

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Ixtoc 1 Southern, GoM FTICR-MS, GC-MS/MS, Oil spill Coast, Biomarkers, Fingerprinting, Weathering

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The oil spill from the Ixtoc 1 well in 1979 in the southern Gulf of Mexico (sGoM) was in many aspects very similar to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout offshore Louisiana 30 years later (2010), most importantly because of the subsurface nature of the oil release, the amount of oil released, and the extensive environmental distribution of the spilled oil, including coastal impacts. Because of that, the Ixtoc 1 spill can serve as an excellent analog to study and model the long-term oil weathering processes in coastal environments. In 2016, a research expedition sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) visited many coastal sites in the sGoM, previously known to be impacted by the Ixtoc 1 spill, and collected oil residues. The residues were analyzed using targeted (GC-MS/MS) and non-targeted (FTICR-MS) approaches in order to assess their origin and the nature of weathering transformation products. The initial results suggest multi-decadal preservation potential of Ixtoc 1 spill residues in certain low-energy environments, such as coastal mangrove forests. These results provide valuable input for the modelling of long-term fate and impacts of the DWH spill.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

40 Years of Weathering of Coastal Oil Residues in the Southern Gulf of Mexico, in S. A. Murawski, C. H. Ainsworth, S. Gilbert, D. J. Hollander, C. B. Paris, M. Schlüter & D. L. Wetzel (Eds.), Deep Oil Spills: Facts, Fate, and Effects, Springer Nature, p. 328-340