Composition of the Dissolved Organic Matter Produced during In Situ Burning of Spilled Oil

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DOM, In situ burning, Oil spills, Water-soluble organics, Pyrogenic, FTICR-MS

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In situ burning is often used as a response method for oil slicks in the marine environment. This process however forms viscous tar-like residues that either float on the surface or sink through the water column, introducing organic species into the water phase. The interaction of this burn residue with the water phase also introduces dissolved organics into the water column. In this study, we conducted laboratory-scale experiments to characterize and compare the organic species entering the water phase from the petrogenic (fresh oil) and pyrogenic (burnt oil) input during oil spills. The oil and water-soluble organics were characterized using ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS). The results show that burning strongly increases concentrations of oil-related constituents entering the water phase, due to transformation reactions producing oxidized organic species with higher water solubility. The pyrogenic water-soluble organics also showed a higher percentage of unsaturated compounds relative to the petrogenic fraction. The effect of these highly unsaturated and oxygenated organic species on oil spill fate and their ecosystem impacts is currently unknown.

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Organic Geochemistry, v. 139, art. 103926