University of Minnesota Duluth
University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
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Friday, December 9, 2016; 3:00 p.m.; LSci 175


Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Welcomes:

Dr. Zhanfei Liu

Associate Professor, Marine Organic Geochemistry & Environmental Analytical Chemistry, Marine Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin

What Have we Learned About Oil Weathering in Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill”

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill arguably was the largest oil spill ever recorded, releasing about 200 million gallons of light Louisiana sweet crude oil to Gulf of Mexico. Once the oil rose to sea surface, the oil weathering seemed to be more rapid than expected from the field data. For example, over 90% of the 16 EPA priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a major toxic component in the crude oil, disappeared by the time the oil hit the coastline.  This rapid weathering may be due to environmental conditions in the Gulf, such as high temperature and strong sunshine, which cause high bio- and photodegradation rates of oil.  We conducted multiple on-deck or laboratory incubation experiments to further tease out the roles of biodegradation and photooxidation using modern techniques, including next-generation sequencing and pyrolysis-gas chromatography mass spectrometry.  In this talk, I will give a holistic view of what our group has learned regarding this oil spill over a few years and provide some thoughts on future research directions.