Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin M. Yeager


The long-term fate of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico (GOMx) following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has yet to be fully characterized. Elemental (% C and % N), stable isotopes (δ13Corganic), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecular signatures were investigated in shelf and slope sediments collected in October 2010 and 2011 to gain insight into processes affecting the distribution and fate of spilled Macondo oil. Particulate organic carbon (POC) ranged between 1.55 and 2.22 wt. % in 2010 and 0.55 and 2.06 % in 2011 while the corresponding δ13Corganic ranges were from -23.37 to -20.77 ‰ (vs. PDB) in 2010, and -22.68 to -20.75 ‰ (vs. PDB) in 2011. Ranges of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (TPAH) concentrations were from 72.57 to 7,543.53 ng/g in 2010 and 25.55 to 16,582.77 ng/g in 2011. The range of measured values represented significant deviations from previous background measurements. This provided the basis for concluding that the Macondo spill altered the “background” organic carbon and hydrocarbon signature, that Macondo oil has weathered and/or biodegraded in the year following the spill, and that a significant spatial trend of hydrocarbons extended from the Macondo well across the northern GOMx in October 2010 and 2011.

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Geochemistry Commons