Lemkau Karin L.

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Karin L.

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Article
    Floating oil-covered debris from Deepwater Horizon : identification and application
    (IOP Publishing, 2012-01-18) Carmichael, Catherine A. ; Arey, J. Samuel ; Graham, William M. ; Linn, Laura J. ; Lemkau, Karin L. ; Nelson, Robert K. ; Reddy, Christopher M.
    The discovery of oiled and non-oiled honeycomb material in the Gulf of Mexico surface waters and along coastal beaches shortly after the explosion of Deepwater Horizon sparked debate about its origin and the oil covering it. We show that the unknown pieces of oiled and non-oiled honeycomb material collected in the Gulf of Mexico were pieces of the riser pipe buoyancy module of Deepwater Horizon. Biomarker ratios confirmed that the oil had originated from the Macondo oil well and had undergone significant weathering. Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's records of the oil spill trajectory at the sea surface, we show that the honeycomb material preceded the front edge of the uncertainty of the oil slick trajectory by several kilometers. We conclude that the observation of debris fields deriving from damaged marine materials may be incorporated into emergency response efforts and forecasting of coastal impacts during future offshore oil spills, and ground truthing predicative models.
  • Thesis
    Comprehensive study of a heavy fuel oil spill : modeling and analytical approaches to understanding environmental weathering
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2012-06) Lemkau, Karin L.
    Driven by increasingly heavy oil reserves and more efficient refining technologies, use of heavy fuel oils for power generation is rising. Unlike other refined products and crude oils, a large portion of these heavy oils is undetectable using the traditional gas chromatography-based techniques on which oil spill science has been based. In the current study, samples collected after the 2007 M/V Cosco Busan heavy fuel oil spill (San Francisco, CA) were analyzed using gas chromatography (GC)-based techniques, numerical modeling and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) to examine natural weathering of the oil over a one and a half year period. Traditional GC techniques detected variable evidence of evaporation/ dissolution, biodegradation and photodegradation. Petroleum hydrocarbon compounds smaller than ~n-C16 were rapidly lost due to evaporation and dissolution. Significant biodegradation was not detected until one month post spill while photodegradation was only observed at one field site. To further examine the processes of evaporation and dissolution, samples were analyzed with comprehensive two-dimensional GC (GC×GC) and a physiochemical model developed to approximate quantitative apportionment of compounds lost to the atmosphere and water. Model results suggest temperature is the primary control of evaporation. Finally, to examine the prominent non-GC amenable component of the oil, samples were analyzed with FT-ICR MS. Results showed expected clustering of samples, with those samples collected sooner after the spill having the most compositional similarity to the unweathered oil. Analysis of dominant heteroatom classes within the oil showed losses of high molecular weight species and the formation of stable core structures with time. These results highlight the susceptibility to weathering of these higher molecular weight components, previously believed to be recalcitrant in the environment. Research findings indicate that environmental weathering results in removal or alteration of larger alkylated compounds as well as loss of lower molecular weight species through evaporation/dissolution, biodegradation and photodegradation, with a resultant fraction of stable compounds likely to remain in the environment years after the spill. This research demonstrates the advantages of combining multiple analytical and modeling approaches for a fuller understanding of oil spill chemistry.
  • Article
    Ocean Dumping of Containerized DDT Waste Was a Sloppy Process
    (American Chemical Society, 2019-03-04) Kivenson, Veronika ; Lemkau, Karin L. ; Pizarro, Oscar ; Yoerger, Dana R. ; Kaiser, Carl ; Nelson, Robert K. ; Carmichael, Catherine A. ; Paul, Blair G. ; Reddy, Christopher M. ; Valentine, David L.
    Industrial-scale dumping of organic waste to the deep ocean was once common practice, leaving a legacy of chemical pollution for which a paucity of information exists. Using a nested approach with autonomous and remotely operated underwater vehicles, a dumpsite offshore California was surveyed and sampled. Discarded waste containers littered the site and structured the suboxic benthic environment. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) was reportedly dumped in the area, and sediment analysis revealed substantial variability in concentrations of p,p-DDT and its analogs, with a peak concentration of 257 μg g–1, ∼40 times greater than the highest level of surface sediment contamination at the nearby DDT Superfund site. The occurrence of a conspicuous hydrocarbon mixture suggests that multiple petroleum distillates, potentially used in DDT manufacture, contributed to the waste stream. Application of a two end-member mixing model with DDTs and polychlorinated biphenyls enabled source differentiation between shelf discharge versus containerized waste. Ocean dumping was found to be the major source of DDT to more than 3000 km2 of the region’s deep seafloor. These results reveal that ocean dumping of containerized DDT waste was inherently sloppy, with the contents readily breaching containment and leading to regional scale contamination of the deep benthos.
  • Article
    Hurricane Isaac brings more than oil ashore: Characteristics of beach deposits following the Deepwater Horizon spill.
    (Public Library of Science, 2019-03-18) Lemkau, Karin L. ; Reddy, Christopher M. ; Carmichael, Catherine A. ; Aeppli, Christoph ; Swarthout, Robert F. ; White, Helen K.
    Prior to Hurricane Isaac making landfall along the Gulf of Mexico coast in August 2012, local and state officials were concerned that the hurricane would mobilize submerged oiled-materials from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill. In this study, we investigated materials washed ashore following the hurricane to determine if it affected the chemical composition or density of oil-containing sand patties regularly found on Gulf Coast beaches. While small changes in sand patty density were observed in samples collected before and after the hurricane, these variations appear to have been driven by differences in sampling location and not linked to the passing of Hurricane Isaac. Visual and chemical analysis of sand patties confirmed that the contents was consistent with oil from the Macondo well. Petroleum hydrocarbon signatures of samples collected before and after the hurricane showed no notable changes. In the days following Hurricane Isaac, dark-colored mats were also found on the beach in Fort Morgan, AL, and community reports speculated that these mats contained oil from the DWH spill. Chemical analysis of these mat samples identified n-alkanes but no other petroleum hydrocarbons. Bulk and δ13C organic carbon analyses indicated mat samples were comprised of marshland peat and not related to the DWH spill. This research indicates that Hurricane Isaac did not result in a notable change the composition of oil delivered to beaches at the investigated field sites. This study underscores the need for improved communications with interested stakeholders regarding how to differentiate oiled from non-oiled materials. This is especially important given the high cost of removing oiled debris and the increasing likelihood of false positives as oiled-materials washing ashore from a spill become less abundant over time.