Date of Award

Spring 1984

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

Terry L. Wade

Committee Member

George T. F. Wong

Committee Member

Frank E. Scully, Jr.

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.O35M58


Hydrocarbon input sources to the Elizabeth River were investigated. Carbonized coal products (creosote, coal tar, and roof tar), petroleum products (Kuwait Crude Oil, No. 2 Fuel Oil, and a fuel oil spill sample) and soot (woodstove and diesel engine) have unique hydrocarbon distributions. Elizabeth River sediment hydrocarbon distributions indicate that they are contaminated with both carbonized coal and petroleum products. Using a simple two member mixing model, greater than 65 percent of Elizabeth River sediments' resolved aromatic compounds were determined to originate from carbonized coal products. These aromatic hydrocarbons include the EPA priority pollutant polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons which are known to be carcinogenic and/or mutagenic. Differences in the hydrocarbon distributions and physical properties between petroleum and carbonized coal products allow the detection of contamination of sediments by carbonized coal products even when the inputs of petroleum products are several times greater. Once incorporated into the sediments, hydrocarbons derived from both sources are dispersed in association with the fine grained materials.


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