Oil in the Intertidal and Subtidal Sediment of the Saudi Arabian Coast One Year After the Gulf War Oil Spill

by Jacqueline Michel, Research Planning Inc, Columbia, United States,
Miles O. Hayes, Research Planning Inc, Columbia, United States,
Don V. Aurand, Research Planning Inc, Columbia, United States,
Theodore C. Sauer, Research Planning Inc, Columbia, United States,
Todd M. Montello, Research Planning Inc, Columbia, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


One year after the Gulf War oil spill, studies were conducted on the distribution and fate of oil in intertidal and shallow, subtidal habitats along the Saudi Arabian cost. These studies were part of the NOAA ship Mt. Mitchell's 100-day cruise in the ROPME Sea. The field surveys, planned on the basis of an analysis of satellite imagery and space-shuttle photography, included surveys of 36 intertidal transects, 197 bottom observation dives, collection of over 170 subtidal cores, deployment of current meters and suspended sediment traps, and analysis of over 200 samples for chemical characterization. Results of the intertidal surveys showed little removal of oil stranded on even moderately exposed shorelines. Oil penetrated to depths in sand and mud substrates at a scale never previously observed, due to the presence of secondary porosity derived from abundant burrows and bubble sand. There was no sign of life wherever heavy oil remained. There is no evidence of large-scale sinking of oil as a result of the oil spill.

Subject Headings: Hazardous materials spills | Littoral zones | Aerial photography | Gulfs | Geomatic surveys | Suspended sediment | Soil analysis | United States | North America | Middle East | Montana | Washington | Saudi Arabia | Asia

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