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Soil heating and fire effects resulting from in situ oil spill burning

Status: 
Action
Dates: 
January, 2013 to December, 2015

In situ controlled burn of crude oil in Iberville Parish, LA (photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
In situ controlled burn of crude oil in Iberville Parish, LA (photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
When petroleum is spilled on land, clean up can be difficult. Sites may be inaccessible to mechanical containment, recovery, and clean up, and the equipment may cause environmental damage. In situ burning may be a valuable alternative for removing spilled petroleum from land.

Although in situ burning of spilled oil may be a useful tool, its effects on vegetative communities and long-term site recovery are important concerns. Burning oil may produce temperatures that heat soils. This soil heating may affect the soil’s ability to supply water and nutrient needed by plants. This study investigates the effects of burning petroleum fuel oil (diesel) and crude oil on soils.

Soil monoliths are used to investigate environmental effects of burning petroleum fuel and crude oils
Soil monoliths are used to investigate environmental effects of burning petroleum fuel and crude oils

 

Approach

Laboratory burning of soil monoliths (i.e., vertical slices of undisturbed soil) was conducted at three soil moisture levels. Results from this study will improve understanding of the soil temperature distribution during burning and corresponding effects on soil respiration. More information and a video describing this project are available on our Firelab project page.

Deliverables

Reardon, J. and E. J. O’Donnell. 2013. Prediction of soil heating resulting from oil spill in-situ burning. Proceedings of the 36th Artic and Marine Oilspill Program (AMOP) Technical Seminar on Environmental Contamination and Response, Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 2013.



Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Collaborators:
Jim Myers - Chevron Energy Technology Company
Alexis Steen - ExxonMobil Research and Engineering

Research Staff:
Edward O'Donnell - Rocky Mountain Research Station

Funding Contributors:
American Petroleum Institute