Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Schnoor, Jerald L

First Committee Member

Just, Craig L

Second Committee Member

Hornbuckle, Keri C


Light, medium and heavy crude oils were studied at three concentrations and with two different sediments in experimental microcosm settings to determine the ability of Spartina alterniflora and associated microbes to breakdown total extractable hydrocarbons (TEH) in the water. It was a baseline experiment designed to quantify the rates of biodegradation under relatively quiescent conditions from different crude oils at moderate doses ranging from 0-150 mg/kg soil. Upon the completion of the experiment there were several key findings: (1) The lethal dosage for Spartina alterniflora was not reached within the 90 day experiment at these dosages, and all plants survived; (2) More than 97% of the total extractable hydrocarbons (TEH) were shown to be degraded by plants and rhizosphere microorganisms within the 90- day experiment; (3) The dose of oil introduced as a slick (simulated spill) on day zero did not significantly affect the results for TEH degradation within the range of dosages from 50-150 mg/g -- these dosages could be degraded by the marsh cord grass system; (4) A sediment type which was acclimated to oil for several months and one which was non-acclimated did not show significantly different results for TEH degradation in the microcosms -- both sediment systems resulted in TEH degradation over the 90-day experiment; and (5) A mathematical model was developed which simulated experiment results quite closely including TEH diffusion from the crude oil slick into the water and subsequent biodegradation.


Crude Oil, Hydrocarbons, Mathematica, Phytoremediation, Salt marsh, Spartina alterniflora


xii, 110 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 65-72).


Copyright 2013 Luke Smith