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Detection and quantification of hydrocarbons in sediments

July 1, 2016

A new technology developed by the US Geological Survey now allows for fast, direct detection of hydrocarbon plumes both in rivers and drifting in the deep ocean. Recent experiments show that the method can also detect and quantify hydrocarbons buried in river sediments and estuaries. This approach uses a variant of induced polarization, a surface-sensitive physical property of certain polarizable materials immersed in an electrolyte that can accept and adsorb charge under an inducing voltage. Known polarizable materials include most sulfides, ilmenite (FeTiO3), metallic objects such as buried wrecks and pipelines, and now hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbon-in-water response to induced polarization is in fact nearly two orders of magnitude greater than the IP response of any of the hard minerals. The oil:water detection limit for hydrocarbons so far is down to 0.0002% in the laboratory.

Publication Year 2016
Title Detection and quantification of hydrocarbons in sediments
DOI 10.1109/OCEANS.2016.7761416
Authors Jeff Wynn, Mike Williamson, Jeff Frank
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70175540
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center