Distribution and recovery trajectory of Macondo (Mississippi Canyon 252) oil in Louisiana coastal wetlands

Mar Pollut Bull. 2014 Oct 15;87(1-2):57-67. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.08.011. Epub 2014 Aug 28.


We measured the concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons in 405 wetland sediment samples immediately before the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster led to their broad-scale oiling, and on nine trips afterwards. The average concentrations of alkanes and PAHs were 604 and 186 times the pre-spill baseline values, respectively. Oil was distributed with some attenuation up to 100m inland from the shoreline for alkanes, but increased for aromatics, and was not well-circumscribed by the rapid shoreline assessments (a.k.a. SCAT) of relative oiling. The concentrations of target alkanes and PAHs in June 2013 were about 1% and 5%, respectively, of the February 2011 concentrations, but remained at 3.7 and 33 times higher, respectively, than in May 2010. A recovery to baseline conditions suggests that the concentration of alkanes may be near baseline values by the end of 2015, but that it may take decades for the PAH concentrations to be that low.

Keywords: Alkane; Macondo oil spill; PAH; Recovery; Restoration; Wetland.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Petroleum / analysis*
  • Petroleum Pollution*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry*
  • Wetlands*


  • Petroleum
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical