Disentangling oil weathering using GC x GC. 2. Mass transfer calculations.
Hydrocarbon mass transfers to the atmosphere and water column drive the early weathering of oil spills and also control the chemical exposures of many coastal wildlife species. However, in the field, mass transfer rates of individual hydrocarbons to air and water are often uncertain. In the Part 1 companion to this paper, we used comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC x GC) to identify distinct signatures of evaporation and dissolution encoded in the compositional evolution of weathered oils. In Part 2, we further investigate patterns of mass removal in GC x GC chromatograms using a mass transfer model. The model was tailored to conditions at a contaminated beach on Buzzards Bay, MA, after the 2003 Bouchard 120 oil spill. The model was applied to all resolved hydrocarbon compounds in the C11-C24 boiling range, based on their GC x GC-estimated vapor pressures and aqueous solubilities. With no fitted parameters, the model successfully predicted GC x GC chromatogram patterns of mass removal associated with evaporation, water-washing, and diffusion-limited transport. This enabled a critical field evaluation of the mass transfer model and also allowed mass apportionment estimates of hundreds of individual hydrocarbon compounds to air and water. Ultimately, this method should improve assessments of wildlife exposures to oil spill hydrocarbons.
Arey, JS; Nelson, RK; Plata, DL; Reddy, CM
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