WIT Press

The Use Of The Isotopic Composition Of Individual Compounds For Correlating Hydrocarbon Products In The Environment With Their Suspected Sources


Free (open access)







465 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


R. P. Philp, J. Allen & T. Kuder


The use of the isotopic composition of individual compounds for correlating hydrocarbon products in the environment with their suspected sources R. P. Philp, J. Allen, & T.Kuder School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahonia, Norman, OK. 73019. Abstract Correlation of crude oils, or refined products, in the environment with suspected sources is traditionally undertaken using GC and GCMS and, in certain cases, bulk carbon isotope compositions. With crude condensates, or refined products in particular, the absence, or low concentration, of biomarkers restricts their use for making unique correlations. An alternative and, sometimes, complimentary technique for correlation of such products has evolved through the use of combined gas chromatography-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GCIRMS). This approach permits determination of the carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of individual compounds in the crude oil or refined product to produce isotopic fingerprints for use in correlation studies. In this paper it is proposed to review applications of GCIRMS to the correlation of various spilled products with their suspected sources in different environments, particularly refined products such diesel, fuel oil and gasolines. 1 Introduction Spills of hydrocarbons into the environment are inevitably followed by a clean up process and the need to ascertain responsibility for the spill. In many cases evidence pointing toward the guilty party may be overwhelming, particularly in the case of major oil spills such as the classic example of the Exxon Valdez spill. However in spite of such evidence there always remains a need to demonstrate the relationship between the oil on the beaches, some of which may have been derived from other sources, and that derived from the tanker. For spills involving