Advances in Chemical Analysis of Oil Spills Since the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. Academic Article uri icon


  • Analytical techniques for chemical analysis of oil, oil photochemical and biological transformation products, and dispersants and their biodegradation products benefited significantly from research following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster. Crude oil and weathered-oil matrix reference materials were developed based on the Macondo well oil and characterized for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, hopanes, and steranes for use to assure and improve the quality of analytical measurements in oil spill research. Advanced gas chromatography (GC) techniques such as comprehensive two-dimensional GC (GCGC), pyrolysis GC with mass spectrometry (MS), and GC with tandem MS (GC-MS/MS) provide a greater understanding at the molecular level of composition and complexity of oil and weathering changes. The capabilities of high-resolution MS (HRMS) were utilized to extend the analytical characterization window beyond conventional GC-based methods to include polar and high molecular mass components (>400Da) and to provide new opportunities for discovery, characterization, and investigation of photooxidation and biotransformation products. Novel separation approaches to reduce the complexity of the oil and weathered oil prior to high-resolution MS and advanced fluorescence spectrometry have increased the information available on spilled oil and transformation products. HRMS methods were developed to achieve the required precision and sensitivity for detection of dispersants and to provide molecular-level characterization of the complex surfactants. Overall, research funding following the DWH oil spill significantly advanced and expanded the use of analytical techniques for chemical analysis to support petroleum and dispersant characterization and investigations of fate and effects of not only the DWH oil spill but future spills.

published proceedings

  • Crit Rev Anal Chem

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Wise, S. A., Rodgers, R. P., Reddy, C. M., Nelson, R. K., Kujawinski, E. B., Wade, T. L., Campiglia, A. D., & Liu, Z.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Wise, Stephen A||Rodgers, Ryan P||Reddy, Christopher M||Nelson, Robert K||Kujawinski, Elizabeth B||Wade, Terry L||Campiglia, Andres D||Liu, Zhanfei

publication date

  • March 2022