Tar on Your Swimming Cozzie?

C. Anthony Lewisa, Christopher P. Harmana,b, Mark A. Holdena, David Pagea, Kylie L. Pinfolda, Catherine E. Reevesa,c, Phillip T.V. Wilkesa,d and Hannah K. Wilsona


Petroleum & Environmental Geochemistry Group, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, U.K.
b Present Address: Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Gaustadalleen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway
c Present Address: URSQatar LLC, Bin Jaham Al Kuwari Building, Al Sadd Street, P.O. Box 22108, Doha, Qatar
d Present Address: Department of Geography, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.

Presented at: 24th IMOG, Bremen, Germany, 6-11 September 2009.

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In 1998 an investigation of the distribution and chemistry of tar balls found on beaches around the South-West peninsula of the UK was undertaken as part of a M.Sc. research project. This initiated a longer term baseline study and over the subsequent 11 years a number of final-year B.Sc. research projects, six of which are included herein, have been completed. Beaches on the north and south coasts of Cornwall and Devon have been surveyed a number of times, often during both the summer (July-September) and the winter (December-February) seasons and many have been surveyed on a number of occasions during the period (1998-2008).

Although the amount of tar may be classed as "negligible" (<1.0 g m-1) it can originate from sources that are geographically remote from the UK. This is demonstrated by tar balls showing a biological marker signature similar to that of oil from the Prestige, which sank off Spain (42°15'N, 12°08'W) in November 2002.

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