Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Edward S. Van Vleet, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard H. Pierce, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gregg R. Brooks, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark E. Luther, Ph.D.


A hydrocarbon chemistry study was performed on sediments, oil masses and mangrove prop roots of a mangrove island in Boca Ciega Bay, Florida following a spill of Bunker C fuel oil in Tampa Bay. Normal alkane (n-alkane) and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) profiles were monitored for effects of degradation and weathering in these mediums for a period of one year. Initial findings indicated a loss of lower molecular weight n-alkanes and PAH's in sediments and prop roots. There was little or no loss of these low molecular weight components in the oil mass samples. Hydrocarbon profiles at the end of the year long study indicated a loss of many of the n-alkanes with a corresponding increase in the unresolved complex mixture, and a shift in the profile towards higher molecular weight compounds. One and two ring PAH's were also lost during the year, while three and four ring PAH's (phenanthrene, pyrene and chrysene) showed little evidence of degradation and/or weathering. Increased exposure to physical processes appeared to enhance the weathering of the petroleum hydrocarbons. Mangrove prop roots, exposed to such additional processes, clearly degraded more rapidly than sediments or oil masses. Sediments exhibited more weathering than did oil mass samples which were protected from these natural weathering processes and showed little change from the original Bunker C composition throughout the year. The lack of significant weathering effects on the PAH's indicates probable long term residual toxicity for biological communities in and around Eleanor Island.