Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium

Project Overview

Analysis of hydrocarbons (PAHS) in sediment samples

Principal Investigator
Auburn University
Department of Civil Engineering


The overall goal of this project is to conduct laboratory studies to examine the transport behavior of sediments contaminated with Deepwater Horizon oil.  Laboratory-scale experiments are warranted because of the variability in natural systems and the difficulty in controlling system variables.  Of particular interest are the re-suspension and re-distribution behavior of oil-contaminated sediments as a function of shear velocity, and changes in oil concentration and constituent chemistry in sediments undergoing re-suspension and redistribution. 

An experimental flume is being constructed to produce steady shear velocity profiles across oil-contaminated sediments while allowing chemical sampling of sediment pore water.  A series of experiments will be performed using actual near-shore sediments collected from Orange Beach, Alabama and contaminated with known amounts of Louisiana light sweet crude oil.  Control experiments will also be performed using oil-free sediments.  The experiments will cover a range of shear velocities and will allow shear velocity-re-suspension profiles to be developed.  Additionally, changes in sediment-oil pore water chemistry will be examined as a function of water shear velocity and sediment re-suspension.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.