Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry



First Advisor

Christopher W. Brown


Qualitative and quantitative measurements of hydrocarbon contents in the marine environment are very important because of their persistence and the possible toxicity to all aquatic organisms A rapid method for analyzing hydrocarbons in marine surface estuarine waters and beach sands was developed Infrared spectroscopy was employed as the main analytical tool for both qualitative and quantitative determination of. hydrocarbons found in the marine environment. In addition to infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography was also used in some parts of this study for characterizing the samples. Thin-layer chromatography was used to separate the sample to its separable fractions according to different polarities. Due to the small amount of samples obtained, microsampling techniques were applied to all of the analytical procedures.

Hydrocarbons from many sources not only accumulate, but also persist in many marine environmental samples such as sediments, water, and organisms. (According to our analytical results, the hydrocarbons occur at low levels of concentration in the presence of other extractable substances in the samples. Three types of hydrocarbons, i.e., paraffins, aromatics and olefins were found in the marine samples. A seasonal variation in the quality and quantity of these hydrocarbons was observed; however, the total hydrocarbon concentration was generally less than 0.1 ppm.

During this study 302 seawater samples and 27 sand samples were analyzed. A R.I. pleasure-craft harbor was monitored weekly for 2.5 years. Furthermore, coastal waters from several location along the R.I. coast were monitored periodically. In general the results revealed that hydrocarbon pollution is higher during the colder, winter months, and a positive correlation with boating traffic could not be made.



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