Biography:

In the past Keith A. Kvenvolden has collaborated on articles with H.Edward Clifton and Frances D. Hostettler. One of their most recent publications is Spilled Oil and infaunal activity—modification of burrowing behavior and redistribution of oil. Which was published in journal Marine Environmental Research.

More information about Keith A. Kvenvolden research including statistics on their citations can be found on their Copernicus Academic profile page.

Keith A. Kvenvolden's Articles: (9)

Spilled Oil and infaunal activity—modification of burrowing behavior and redistribution of oil

AbstractA series of experiments in Willapa Bay, Washington, indicates the degree to which the presence of spilled oil modifies the burrowing behavior of infauna and the extent to which the animals redistribute oil into interridal sediment. Small amounts of North Slope crude oil introduced at low tide directly into burrow openings (mostly made by the crustacean Callianassa) resulted in a limited and temporary reduction in the number of burrow openings. In contrast, a layerof oil-saturated sand 1 cm thick buried about 5 cm below the sediment surface sharply reduced the number of burrow openings. After a year, the few new burrows penetrated only the margins of the experimental plot, and bioturbation below the buried oil saturated sand layer declined dramatically.The experiments suggest that small amounts of oil temporarily stranded by tides in themselves have no long-range effect on burrowing behavior. The fauna, however, are capable of introducing measurable amounts of oil into the subsurface, where it is retained long after the rest of the stranded oil has washed away. A buried layer of oil-saturated sand greatly reduces infaunal activity; the oil presents an effective barrier that can persist for years.The oil incorporated into the sediment from burrow openings showed evidence of degradation after 7 months. In contrast, the layer of buried oil remained essentially undegraded after a period of two years, even though oil in lower concentrations above the layer was degraded after a period of one year. This variation in degree of dgradation of the buried oil, as well as the heterogeneity of oil distribution wherever the oil has been incorporated from the surface, emphasises the importance of careful sampling in any attempt to locate or monitor the presence of spilled oil in the substrate.

Multiple sources of alkanes in Quaternary oceanic sediment of Antarctica

AbstractNormal alkanes (n-C13n-C36), isoprenoid hydrocarbons (i-C15, i-C16, i-C18, i-C19, and i-C20) triterpanes (C27C32), and (C27C29) are present in low concentrations offshore Antarctica in near-surface, Quaternary sediment of the Wilkes Land continental margin and of the western Ross Sea. The distributions of these hydrocarbons are interpreted relative to possible sources and processes. The hydrocarbons appear to be mixtures of primary and recycled material from marine and terrigenous sources. The n-alkanes are most abundant and are characterized by two distinct populations, one of probable marine origin and the other likely from terrigenous, vascular plant sources. Because the continent of Antarctica today is devoid of higher plants, the plant-derived hydrocarbons in these offshore sediments probably came from wind-blown material and recycled Antarctic sediment that contains land-plant remains from an earlier period of time. Isoprenoid hydrocarbons are partially recycled and mainly of marine origin; the dominance of pristane over phytane suggests oxic paleoenvironmental conditions. Both modern and ancient triterpanes and steranes are present, and the distribution of these indicates a mixture of primary and recycled bacterial, algal, and possible higher-plant materials. Although the sampled sediments were deposited during the Quaternary, they apparently contain a significant component of hydrocarbons of pre-Quaternary age.

Laboratory simulation of hydrothermal petroleum formation from sediment in Escanaba Trough, offshore from northern California

AbstractPetroleum associated with sulfide-rich sediment is present in Escanaba Trough at the southern end of the Gorda Ridge spreading axis offshore from northern California within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the U.S. This location and occurrence are important for evaluation of the mineral and energy resource potential of the seafloor under U.S. jurisdiction. In Escanaba Trough, petroleum is believed to be formed by hydrothermal processes acting on mainly terrigenous organic material in Quaternary, river-derived sediment. To attempt to simulate these processes in the laboratory, portions of a Pleistocene gray-green mud, obtained from ∼ 1.5 m below the seafloor at a water depth of ∼ 3250 m in Escanaba Trough, were heated in the presence of water in four hydrous-pyrolysis experiments conducted at temperatures ranging from 250 to 350°C and at a pressure of 350 bar for 1.0–4.5 days. Distributions of n-alkanes, isoprenoid hydrocarbons, triterpanes, and steranes in the heated samples were compared with those in a sample of hydrothermal petroleum from the same area. Mud samples heated for less than 4.5 days at less than 350°C show changes in some, but not all, molecular marker ratios of organic compounds that are consistent with those expected during hydrothermal petroleum formation. Our results suggest that the organic matter in this type of sediment serves as one possible source for some of the compounds found in the hydrothermal petroleum.

Geochemical changes in crude oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez supertanker into Prince William Sound, Alaska

AbstractNorth Slope crude oil spilled from the T/V Exxon Valdez in March 1989 and contaminated about 500 km of Prince William Sound shoreline. Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in oil samples collected in August 1990 and June 1992 from beaches on six islands impacted by the spill have been compared with the hydrocarbons from North Slope crude oil taken from the stricken tanker. Degradation processes have changed the physical appearance of this residual spilled oil; the beached oil as collected ranged from a light brown color, to a heavy black viscous oil, to a black, powder-like residue. In these physically different samples, terpane, sterane, and aromatic sterane distributions, as well as carbon isotope values, are similar and correlate with the original Exxon Valdez oil. On the other hand, n-alkanes, isoprenoids, and many of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are present in the original crude oil are dramatically altered in the oil samples collected from the beaches.

Comparison of 14C ages of hydrothermal petroleums

AbstractIn order to set limits on the time frame of formation of hydrothermal petroleum, we have obtained 14C ages on samples from three diverse regions; Gulf of California (Guaymas Basin), Northeast Pacific Ocean (Escanaba Trough and Middle Valley), and the East African Rift (Tanganyika Trough). The results date the source of carbon and therefore provide maximum ages for the formation and emplacement of the hydrothermal petroleums. The youngest petroleum occurs iin the Souther Trough of Guaymas Basin (3200–6600 yr, mean 4692 yr); in the Northern Trough the petroleum is slightly older (7400 yr). Significantly older hydrothermal petroleum occurs in Escanaba Trough (17,000 yr) and Middle Valley (29,000 yr). A continental example from the East African Rift has an age of 25,000 yr, comparable to the ages observed in the oceanic samples from the Northeast Pacific Ocean. These ages affirm that hydrothermal petroleum formation is a very rapid process and took place some time between the latest Pleistocene and the present in these active hydrothermal systems.

Characterization of hydrocarbon gas within the stratigraphic interval of gas-hydrate stability on the North Slope of Alaska, U.S.A.

AbstractIn the Kuparuk River Unit 2D-15 well, on the North Slope of Alaska, a 60 m-thick stratigraphic interval that lies within the theoretical pressure-temperature field of gas-hydrate stability is inferred to contain methane hydrates. This inference is based on interpretations from well logs: (1) release of methane during drilling, as indicated by the mud log, (2) an increase in acoustic velocity on the sonic log, and (3) an increase of electrical resistivity on the electric logs. Our objective was to determine the composition and source of the gas within the shallow gas-hydrate-bearing interval based on analyses of cutting gas. Headspace gas from canned drill cuttings collected from within the gas-hydrate-bearing interval of this well has an average methane to ethane plus propane [C1/(C2+ C 3)] ratio of about 7000 and an average methane δ13C value of −46% (relative to the PDB standard). These compositions are compared with those obtained at one well located to the north of 2D-15 along depositional strike and one down-dip well to the northeast. In the well located on depositional strike (Kuparuk River Unit 3K-9), gas compositions are similar to those found at 2D-15. At the down-dip well (Prudhoe Bay Unit R-1), the C1/(C2 +C3) ratios are lower (700) and the methane δ13C is heavier (−33%). We conclude that the methane within the stratigraphic interval of gas hydrate stability comes from two sources— in situ microbial gas and migrated thermogenic gas. The thermal component is greatest at Prudhoe Bay. Up-dip to the west, the thermogenic component decreases, and microbial gas assumes more importance.

NoteHistory of the recognition of organic geochemistry in geoscience

AbstractThe discipline of organic geochemistry is an outgrowth of the application of the principles and methods of organic chemistry to sedimentary geology. Its origin goes back to the last part of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century concurrent with the evolution of the applied discipline of petroleum geochemistry. In fact, organic geochemistry was strongly influenced by developments in petroleum geochemistry. Now, however, organic geochemistry is considered an umbrella geoscience discipline of which petroleum geochemistry is an important component.

A record of hydrocarbon input to San Francisco Bay as traced by biomarker profiles in surface sediment and sediment cores

AbstractSan Francisco Bay is one of the world's largest urbanized estuarine systems. Its water and sediment receive organic input from a wide variety of sources; much of this organic material is anthropogenically derived. To document the spatial and historical record of the organic contaminant input, surficial sediment from 17 sites throughout San Francisco Bay and sediment cores from two locations—Richardson Bay and San Pablo Bay—were analyzed for biomarker constituents. Biomarkers, that is, `molecular fossils', primarily hopanes, steranes, and n-alkanes, provide information on anthropogenic contamination, especially that related to petrogenic sources, as well as on recent input of biogenic material. The biomarker parameters from the surficial sediment and the upper horizons of the cores show a dominance of anthropogenic input, whereas the biomarker profiles at the lower horizons of the cores indicate primarily biogenic input. In the Richardson Bay core the gradual upcore transition from lower maturity background organics to a dominance of anthropogenic contamination occurred about 70–100 years ago and corresponds to the industrial development of the San Francisco Bay area. In San Pablo Bay, the transition was very abrupt, reflecting the complex depositional history of the area. This sharp transition, perhaps indicating a depositional hiatus or erosional period, dated at pre-1952, is clearly visible. Below, the hiatus the biomarker parameters are immature; above, they are mature and show an anthropogenic overlay. Higher concentrations of terrigenous n-alkanes in the upper horizons in this core are indicative of an increase in terrigenous organic matter input in San Pablo Bay, possibly a result of water diversion projects and changes in the fresh water flow into the Bay from the Delta. Alternatively, it could reflect a dilution of organic material in the lower core sections with hydraulic mining debris.

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