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COI Funded Project: Why Does Oil Continue to Persist in West Falmouth Harbor Sediments?

Project Funded: 2002

Proposed Research

Sediments in West Falmouth, MA continue to be contaminated with oil residues from the Florida spill of 1969. Natural populations of microbes can degrade petroleum but may be hindered by the lack of sulfate and strong sorption to sediments at this location. To test this hypothesis, we propose to spike sulfate and surfactants (to help desorb the oil) into the sediments and monitor any microbial reactions with a novel analytical tool called comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography. This work should provide invaluable insight into the long-term fate of environmental contaminants in the coastal ocean.

Originally published: January 25, 2002