Characterizing aquatic sediment-oil aggregates using in situ instruments. Academic Article uri icon


  • The effects of emulsified crude oil and salinity (15, 30 per thousand ) on the steady state aggregate volume distributions and fractal dimensions were determined for a range of mean velocity gradients, (G(m) =5-50 s(-1)). Aggregation was performed in a 40-L cylindrical tank with a 4-blade paddle mixer. Three-dimensional fractal dimensions (D3) and volume distributions were determined using a procedure integrating data from an electrozone and an in situ light scattering instrument. Two-dimensional fractal dimensions (D2) and derived volume distributions were determined using a recently developed submersible flow cytometer equipped with a digital camera and image analysis software. For latex beads or emulsified crude oil systems, the above listed instruments yielded consistent size distributions and fractal dimensions (D2=1.92 +/- 0.16, D3=2.94 +/- 0.12). Mean volume aggregate diameters determined using the FlowCAM were consistently larger that those determined using the LISST-100 or Coulter Multisizer due to aggregate orientations during measurements. With increasing G(m) values, all colloidal aggregates showed increasing D3 values due to reduced aggregate length. Because of the compactness of all the aggregates (D3 >2), D2 values remained constant at 2. Neither salinity nor sediment type significantly affected D2 values calculated for sediment-crude oil aggregates. However, clay-oil aggregates showed higher D3 values than clay aggregates. This suggests that colloidal oil and mixing shear are the more dominant factors influencing aggregate morphology in nearshore waters. Overall, the data suggests that the analysis methods provide consistent size distribution results. However, because of the shear and salinity of coastal waters, resulting aggregates are too compact to estimate their D3 values using image analysis alone.

published proceedings

  • Mar Pollut Bull

author list (cited authors)

  • Sterling, M. C., Bonner, J. S., Ernest, A., Page, C. A., & Autenrieth, R. L.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Sterling, Michael C||Bonner, James S||Ernest, Andrew NS||Page, Cheryl A||Autenrieth, Robin L

publication date

  • March 2004