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

Project Overview

Environmental Chemistry of the BP Oil Spill

Principal Investigator
Jacksonville State University
Department of Physical and Earth Sciences
Member Institutions
Jacksonville State University, The University of Alabama, Troy University, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of North Alabama


Chemical studies of the BP oil spill will concentrate on distribution and time degradation of the oil spill compounds in the Gulf marine environment.  Crude oil is a very complex mixture of low- and high molecular weight compounds, such as aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, asphaltenes, resins, and heterocycles.  These compounds interact differently with the marine environment.  For example, straight-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons degrade much more rapidly than aromatics or resins. 

Therefore, it is important to determine how various components of the crude oil distribute and evolve in the Gulf environment.  Such studies will determine the life time of these compounds in the environment and provide an insight into various pathways of degradation and transformation of these chemicals. These investigations will be accomplished by utilizing sophisticated separation and fractioning of crude oil extracts obtained from the field samples followed by treatment methods and detailed chemical analysis. 

Our studies will be subdivided into the following projects:

  1. Extraction of field samples and sampling protocols
  2. Separation, spectral analysis and studies of degradation products
  3. Interaction of oil-spill with marine sediments and solid surfaces
  4. The effect of chemical diversity of crude oil on biochemical transformation
  5. Trace metals in offshore sediments as tracers of oil inputs
  6. Volatile emission study: Determination of the Chemical Evolution of Oil-Dispersant Systems Via Sea-Air Exchange
  7. Physico-Chemical Sorption Studies on Oil Sediments
  8. Environmental Chemistry of BP Oil Spill:  Redox measurements
  9. Environmental Chemistry of BP Oil Spill:  Surface plasmon spectroscopic chemical sensing


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