Transformations of n-alkanes from petroleum pollutants in alluvial groundwaters

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Investigations presented in this paper were aimed at defining the alterations of n-alkane composition in cases of oil-polluted alluvial sediments. Therefore, oil-polluted groundwater samples, taken in five different time intervals during a period of 28 months, were investigated. Samples of alluvial sediments were taken from two boreholes within an oil refinery at Pancevo, Yugoslavia. In both boreholes significant alterations with characteristic degradation of 'oil' n-alkanes with no odd- or even-member predominance were observed, as well as subsequent synthesis of new ones with pronounced even-member predominance, and with maxima at C 16 and C 18. Since no additional contamination of boreholes was observed by analyses of steranes and triterpanes, the observed changes can only be attributed to microbial activity. It is assumed that for the degradation of oil n-alkanes, as well as for the synthesis of 'new' n-alkanes, algae such as dinoflagellates are responsible. This assumption was confirmed by identification of n-alcohols with even-member predominance (C 14–C 20), by identification of cholesterol, as well as of n-fatty acids with even-member predominance (C 14–C 18) in the extract with n-alkane even-member predominance.

Keywords: n-Alkanes, Alluvial sediment, Oil-polluted groundwater, Danube, Microorganisms

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