Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 23, Issue 3–4, pp 140–146 | Cite as

Natural seepage of crude oil into the marine environment

Original

Abstract

Recent global estimates of crude-oil seepage rates suggest that about 47% of crude oil currently entering the marine environment is from natural seeps, whereas 53% results from leaks and spills during the extraction, transportation, refining, storage, and utilization of petroleum. The amount of natural crude-oil seepage is currently estimated to be 600,000 metric tons per year, with a range of uncertainty of 200,000 to 2,000,000 metric tons per year. Thus, natural oil seeps may be the single most important source of oil that enters the ocean, exceeding each of the various sources of crude oil that enters the ocean through its exploitation by humankind.

References

  1. Ahlbrandt TS (2002) Future petroleum energy resources of the world. Int Geol Rev 44:1092–1104Google Scholar
  2. Allen AA, Schlueter RS, Mikolaj PG (1970) Natural oil seepage at Coal Oil Point, Santa Barbara, California. Science 170:974–977Google Scholar
  3. Anderson RK, Scalan RS, Parker PL, Behrens EW (1983) Seep oil and gas in Gulf of Mexico slope sediment. Science 222:619–621Google Scholar
  4. Bates CC, Pearson E (1975) Influx of petroleum hydrocarbons onto the ocean. In: Proc 7th Offshore Technology Conf OTC 2390:535–544Google Scholar
  5. Becker PR, Manen C-A (1988) Natural oil seeps in the Alaskan marine environment. Final Report, Outer Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment Program, US Department of Commerce, Technical Information Service, PB88-235965Google Scholar
  6. Blumer M (1972) Submarine seeps: are they a major source of open ocean oil pollution? Science 176:1257–1258Google Scholar
  7. Clester SM, Hornafius SJ, Scepan U, Estes JE (1996) Quantification of the relationship between natural gas seepage rates and surface oil volume in the Santa Barbara Channel. Trans Am Geophys Union Suppl 77(46), F420Google Scholar
  8. Cook RA (1982) An oil seep at Leask Bay, Stewart Island, New Zealand. N Z J Geol Geophys 25:115–119Google Scholar
  9. Fischer PJ (1978) Natural gas and oil seeps, Santa Barbara Basin, California. The State Land Commission 1977, California Gas, Oil, and Tar Seeps, pp 1–62Google Scholar
  10. Frey MG (1977) Oil in marine waters. In: Proc Offshore Technology Conf OTC 2765:325–330Google Scholar
  11. GESAMP (1993) Impact of oil and related chemicals and wastes on the marine environment. IMO/FAO/UNESCO/WMO/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) Report and Studies no 50Google Scholar
  12. Geyer RA, Giammona CP (1980) Naturally occurring hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. In: Geyer RA (ed) Marine environmental pollution, vol 1, Elsevier Oceanographic Series 27A. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 37–106Google Scholar
  13. Grossling BF (1977) An estimate of the amounts of oil entering the oceans: sources, effects, and sinks of hydrocarbons in the aquatic environment. Proc Symp American Institute of Biological Sciences, pp 5–36Google Scholar
  14. Hornafius JS, Quigley D, Luyendyk BP (1999) The world’s most spectacular marine hydrocarbon seeps (Coal Oil Point, Santa Barbara Channel, California): quantification of emissions. J Geophys Res 104(C9):20703–20711Google Scholar
  15. Hunt JM (1996) Petroleum geochemistry and geology. W.H. Freeman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Jeffrey LM (1980) Petroleum residue in the marine environment. In: Geyer RA (ed) Marine environmental pollution, vol 1, Elsevier Oceanographic Series 27A. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 163–179Google Scholar
  17. Koons CB, Monaghan PH (1977) Input of hydrocarbons from seeps and recent biogenic sources: sources, effects, and sinks of hydrocarbons in the aquatic environment. Proc Symp American Institute of Biological Sciences, pp 94–107Google Scholar
  18. Kornacki AS, Kendrick JW, Berry JL (1994) Impact of oil and gas vents and slicks on petroleum exploration in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Geo-Mar Lett 14:160–169Google Scholar
  19. Kvenvolden KA, Harbaugh JW (1983) Reassessment of the rates at which oil from natural sources enters the marine environment. Mar Environ Res 10:223–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levy EM (1978) Visual and chemical evidence for a natural seep at Scott Inlet, Baffin Island, District of Franklin. Geol Surv Can Curr Res Pap 78-1B:21–26Google Scholar
  21. Levy EM, Ehrhardt M (1981) Natural seepage of petroleum at Buchan Gulf, Baffin Island. Mar Chem 10:355–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lowe SP, Doran T (1988) Oil seeps of the Ionian Islands, Western Greece. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 72:1012Google Scholar
  23. MacDonald IR (1998) Natural oil spills. Sci Am 279:56–61Google Scholar
  24. MacDonald IR, Leifer I (2002) Constraining rates of carbon flux from natural seeps on northern Gulf of Mexico Slope. In: Abstr Vol 7th Int Conf Gas in Marine Sediments, 7–12 October 2002, Baku, Azerbaijan. Nafta Press, Baku, p 119Google Scholar
  25. MacDonald IR, Guinasso NL Jr, Ackleson SG, Amos JF, Duckworth R, Sassen R, Brooks JM (1993) Natural oil slicks in the Gulf off Mexico visible from space. J Geophys Res 98(C9):16,351–16,364Google Scholar
  26. MacDonald IR, Reilly JF Jr, Best WE, Venkataramaiah R, Sassen R, Guinasso NL Jr, Amos J (1996) Remote sensing inventory of active oil seeps and chemosynthetic communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In: Schumacher D, Abrams MA (eds) Hydrocarbon migration and its near-surface expression. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Mem 66:27–37Google Scholar
  27. Macgregor DS (1993) Relationships between seepage, tectonics and subsurface petroleum reserves. Mar Petrol Geol 10:606–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mikolaj PG, Allen AA, Schlueter RS (1972) Investigation of the nature, extent, and fate of natural oil seepage off southern California. In: Proc 4th Offshore Technology Conf OTC 1549:I-367–I-380Google Scholar
  29. Miller RG (1992) The global oil system: the relationship between oil generation, loss, half-life, and the world crude oil resource. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 76:489–500Google Scholar
  30. Miranda FP, Beisl CH, Bentz CM (1998) Application of the Unsupervised Semivariogram Textural Classifier (USTC) for the detection of natural oil seeps using Radarsat-1 data obtained offshore the Amazon River mouth. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 82:1944Google Scholar
  31. Mitchell R, MacDonald IR, Kvenvolden KA (1999) Estimation of total hydrocarbon seepage into the Gulf of Mexico based on satellite remote sensing images. Trans Am Geophys Union 80(49), Ocean Sciences Meet Suppl OS242Google Scholar
  32. NAS (1975) Petroleum in the marine environment. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  33. NAS (1985) Oil in the sea—inputs, fates, and effects. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. NAS (2003) Oil in the sea III: inputs, fates, and effects. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  35. NOAA (1998) Year of the Oceans. Perspectives on marine environmental quality today. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)Google Scholar
  36. Page D, Boehm PD, Douglas GS, Bence AE, Burns WA, Mankiewicz PJ (1997) An estimate of the annual input of natural petroleum hydrocarbons to seafloor sediments in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Mar Pollut Bull 34:744–749CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Patton JS, Rigler MW, Boehm PD, Fiest DL (1981) Ixtoc I oil spill: flaking of surface mousse in the Gulf of Mexico. Nature 290:235–238Google Scholar
  38. Quigley DC, Hornafius JS, Luyendyk BP, Francis RD, Clark J, Washburn L (1999) Decrease in natural marine hydrocarbon seepage near Coal Oil Point, California, associated with offshore oil production. Geology 17:1047–1050CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sandstrom MW, Philp RP (1984) Biological marker analysis and stable carbon isotopic composition of oil seeps from Tonga. Chem Geol 43:167–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Straughan D, Abbott BC (1971) The Santa Barbara oil spill: ecological changes and natural oil leaks. In: Hepple P (ed) Water pollution by oil. Institute of Petroleum, London, pp 257–262Google Scholar
  41. Traynor JJ, Sladen C (1997) Seepage in Vietnam—onshore and offshore examples. Mar Petrol Geol 14:345–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Weaver DW (1969) Geology of the northern Channel Islands. Pacific Sect AAPG, SEPM Spec PublGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilkinson ER (1971) California offshore oil and gas seeps. California Oil Fields—Summary of Operations 57(1):5–28Google Scholar
  44. Wilkinson ER (1972) California offshore oil and gas seeps. California Division Oil and GasGoogle Scholar
  45. Wilson RD, Monaghan PH, Osanik A, Price LC, Rogers MA (1973) Estimate of annual input of petroleum to the marine environment from natural marine seepage Trans Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc 23:182–193Google Scholar
  46. Wilson RD, Monaghan PH, Osanik A, Price LC, Rogers MA (1974) Natural marine oil seepage. Science 184:857–865Google Scholar
  47. Yerkes RF, Wagner HC, Yenne KA (1969) Petroleum development in the region of the Santa Barbara Channel. Geology, petroleum development, and seismicity of the Santa Barbara Channel region, California. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 679:13–27Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyMS 999 Menlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.Chevron Petroleum Technology CompanySan RamonUSA

Personalised recommendations