Organic contamination in sub-tidal sediments near Palmer Station, Antarctica

Authors: Andrew Klein*, Texas A&M University, Stephen T Sweet, Texas A&M University, Terry L Wade, Texas A&M University, Jose L Sericano, Texas A&M University, Terence A Palmer, Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Topics: Cryosphere, Environment, Applied Geography
Keywords: Antarctica, GIS, Environment
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Palmer Station is the smallest of the three permanent United States Antarctic Program (USAP) scientific stations. On January 28th, 1989 after visiting the station, the Argentine resupply ship the Bahía Paraíso ran aground two kilometers from the station while exiting Arthur Harbor. Approximately 600,000 liters of diesel fuel arctic, JP-1 jet fuel, gasoline, compressed gas cylinders, lubricating oils, and other hydraulic fluids were discharged. These contaminants impacted water, organisms (birds, limpets, macro-algae, bivalves, bottom feeding fish), and sediments within a three kilometer radius of Arthur Harbor immediately following the spill. In response, researchers from Texas A&M collected sub-tidal sediments within Arthur Harbor from 1989-1991. As part of a larger environmental monitoring effort, sub-tidal sediments were recollected in 2014 and 2015. Grab samples were collected using a Smith-McIntyre grab sampler at a subset of the original sites that were safely accessible by the Laurence M Gould research vessel. Divers collected samples near the current and former station and immediately off the Bahía Paraíso wreck itself. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the Bahía Paraíso were found in the sediments in the three years following the spill. PAHs were also detected in the sediments from the 2014/2015 reoccupied sites but at generally diminished levels. PAH levels were found to have remained high near the current and former research stations. Research is ongoing to determine if the recently detected PAHs are consistent with the composition of diesel fuel discharged from the Bahía Paraíso or indicate other sources of contamination.

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