Weathering of oil spilled in the marine environment
Overton, Edward B.
Olson, Gregory M.
Adhikari, Puspa L.
Reddy, Christopher M.
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Crude oil is a complex mixture of many thousands of mostly hydrocarbon and nitrogen-, sulfur-, and oxygen-containing compounds with molecular weights ranging from below 70 Da to well over 2,000 Da. When this complex mixture enters the environment from spills, ruptures, blowouts, or seeps, it undergoes a continuous series of compositional changes that result from a process known as weathering. Spills of petroleum involving human activity generally result in more rapid input of crude oil or refined products (diesel, gasoline, heavy fuel oil, and diluted bitumens) to the marine system than do natural processes and urban runoffs. The primary physicochemical processes involved in weathering include evaporation, dissolution, emulsification, dispersion, sedimentation/flocculation, microbial degradation, and photooxidation.
Author Posting. © The Oceanography Society, 2016. This article is posted here by permission of The Oceanography Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Oceanography 29, no. 3 (2016): 126–135, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2016.77.