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TitleAn isotopic approach to source apportionment of PAHs in the Athabasca oil sands region
AuthorAhad, J; Jautzy, J; Smirnoff, A; Gobeil, C; Savard, M
SourceEnviroAnalysis 2015, the environmental solutions conference, program; 2015 p. 11
LinksOnline - En ligne
Year2015
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20150118
MeetingEnviroAnalysis 2015, The Environmental Solutions Conference; Banff, AB; CA; July 12-15, 2015
Documentbook
Lang.English
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf
ProvinceAlberta
Subjectsenvironmental geology; fossil fuels; isotopes; carbon isotopes; isotopic studies; Athabasca oil sands
ProgramCoal & Oil Resources Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Geoscience
AbstractThe continued expansion of oil sands mining and upgrading activities in Canada's Athabasca oil sands (AOS) region has led to concerns about emissions of contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs, which are found at naturally high levels in petrogenic sources such as AOS bitumen, are also produced pyrogenically during the incomplete combustion of organic matter and biologically during early sediment diagenesis. Understanding the impact of oil sands mining activities on the surrounding environment thus requires techniques which can discriminate between these different sources. Here, we present results from several studies carried out under the framework of Natural Resources Canada's CORES Project (Coal & Oil sands Resources Environmental Sustainability, 2009?2014) which utilised compound?specific isotope analysis (?13C, ?2H and ?14C) to delineate and quantify sources of PAHs in the AOS region. Analyses were carried out in dated lake sediments to provide an important temporal component. Stable carbon isotope (?13C) characterisation suggested a fugitive dust source for PAHs deposited in a headwater lake situated 55 km southeast of the main area of mining operations, and for a predominantly wildfire contribution to PAHs deposited in northwest Saskatchewan lakes located between 100 to 220 km east?northeast of the AOS. The application of both ?13C and stable hydrogen isotope (?2H) analysis allowed for an improved delineation of potential mining?related inputs and provided evidence for oil sands petroleum coke (petcoke) in a small lake in the Peace?Athabasca Delta (PAD) situated around 150 km north of the center of mining operations. In a study examining the sources of background PAHs delivered to the PAD via the Peace River watershed, radiocarbon isotopes (?14C) indicated a predominantly natural petrogenic source (93% petrogenic, 7% forest fire) for alkylated PAHs during the past ~50 years. This research has demonstrated that molecular level isotope measurements provide a powerful tool to identify and quantify natural and anthropogenic sources of PAHs in the AOS region.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of organic contaminants found naturally in Athabasca oil sands bitumen that are released to the environment through various sources, including non-mining-related ones (e.g., forest fires). A rigorous approach to PAH source discrimination is essential to understand the extent to which oil sands development contributes to atmospheric emissions of contaminants at distal sites. Here, we present results from several studies carried out under the framework of Natural Resources Canada's CORES Project (Coal & Oil sands Resources Environmental Sustainability, 2009-2014) which utilised compound-specific stable carbon and hydrogen isotope analysis to delineate and quantify sources of PAH sources in the Athabasca oil sands region. This research has demonstrated that compound-specific isotope analysis provides a powerful tool for PAH source apportionment. This information is essential for developing successful environmental management strategies and practices.
GEOSCAN ID296703