Geochemical distribution of hydrocarbons in sediments from mid-Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

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The concentration of hydrocarbons (saturated and aromatic) and synthetic chlorinated compounds (Chlordane, DDT, and PCBs) decreased with depth in sediment cores from mid-Narragansett Bay and reached background levels at different depths. These depths were in general agreement with those expected based on the chronological inputs of these materials to the Bay. Although the total hydrocarbons concentration decreased with depth, the biogenic n-alkanes (n-C25,27,29,31,33) showed a fairly constant concentration with depth as did the organic carbon content of these sediments. The n-alkane odd/even ratio increased with depth in the cores. Size fractionation (> 45 μm and < 45 to > 0.3 μm) of two core sections showed more hydrocarbons associated with the smaller size fraction in the surface section, while the lower section had approximately equal concentrations in both fractions. These trends suggest that over the time period covered by these cores the inputs of biogenic materials has remained relatively constant, while the input of anthropogenic hydrocarbons has increased dramatically during the last 100 yr. This increase is probably due to the expanded use of petroleum over this time period and subsequent chronic inputs to this estuarine environment. © 1979.

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Organic Geochemistry