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Combining stable carbon isotope analysis and petroleum-fingerprinting to evaluate petroleum contamination in the Yanchang oilfield located on loess plateau in China

Wang, Yiping, Liang, Jidong, Wang, Jinxing, Gao, Sha
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.3 pp. 2830-2841
agricultural land, alkanes, biochemical pathways, carbon, molecular weight, oil fields, pH, petroleum, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, remediation, sediments, soil, stable isotopes, stream channels, wastelands, weathering, China
This study evaluated petroleum contamination in the Yanchang (Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., Ltd.) oilfield, located in the loess plateau region of northern Shaanxi, China. Surface soil and sediment samples were collected from the wasteland, farmland, and riverbed in this area to assess the following parameters: total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH), n-alkanes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and carbon isotope ratios (δ¹³C). The results showed that TPH and PAH levels in the study area were 907–3447 mg/kg and 103.59–563.50 μg/kg, respectively, significantly higher than the control samples (TPH 224 mg/kg, PAHs below method quantification limit, MQL). Tests using δ¹³C to detect modified TPH (2238.66 to 6639.42 mg/kg) in the wastelands adjacent to the oil wells revealed more significant contamination than tests using extraction gravimetric analysis. In addition, “chemical fingerprint” indicators, such as low to high molecular weight (LMW/HMW) hydrocarbons, carbon preference index (CPI), and pristine/phytane (Pr/Ph), further confirmed the presence of heavy petroleum contamination and weathering. This has resulted in a nutrient imbalance and unsuitable pH and moisture conditions for microbial metabolic activities. This study evaluates petroleum contamination, which can inform contamination remediation on a case by case basis.