Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 2476–2494 | Cite as

Natural and anthropogenic particulate-bound aliphatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in surface waters of the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia, southern Mediterranean Sea)

  • Rania Fourati
  • Marc Tedetti
  • Catherine Guigue
  • Madeleine Goutx
  • Hatem Zaghden
  • Sami Sayadi
  • Boubaker Elleuch
Research Article


Particulate-bound aliphatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (AHs and PAHs) were investigated in the surface waters of the Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia, southern Mediterranean Sea). Samples were collected off the Sfax and Gabès-Ghannouch coasts. Concentrations in total resolved n-alkanes ranged from 0.03 to 3.2 μg L−1, and concentrations in total parents + alkylated PAHs ranged from bdl to 108.6 ng L−1. The highest concentrations were recorded in the southern Sfax. AHs were mainly of biogenic origin with odd n-alkane predominance, although an anthropogenic contribution was also detected. The PAH molecular patterns revealed a mixed origin with the presence of low molecular weight and alkylated compounds, characteristic of uncombusted oil-derived products, and the presence of high molecular weight compounds, typical of combustion residues. Rainfall events induced an increase in PAH concentrations by a factor 1.5–23.5. The particle-water partition coefficients (Koc) suggest that the partitioning of PAHs between the particulate and dissolved phases is driven by hydrophobicity and organic matter composition.


Hydrocarbons Coastal waters Particles Organic matter Partition coefficient Gulf of Gabès Mediterranean Sea 



We acknowledge the “Institut de recherche pour le développement” (IRD) for providing scholarship to R. Fourati through the “Allocations de Recherche pour une Thèse au Sud” (ARTS) program, as well as the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research for its financial support. This study was carried out in the framework of the IRD Action South project “MANGA” and the IRD French-Tunisian International Joint Laboratory (LMI) “COSYS-Med”, and is a contribution to the WP3 C3A-Action MERMEX/MISTRALS. We are grateful to Z. Drira from the laboratory of Biodiversity and Aquatic Ecosystems (Faculty of Sciences, University of Sfax), as well as H. Sahnoun and T. Omar for their technical help during cruises. We thank the core parameter analytical platform (PAPB) of the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) for performing biogeochemical analyses, and R. Sempéré for the use of the Agilent GC-MS.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_641_MOESM1_ESM.docx (9.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 9564 kb).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rania Fourati
    • 1
  • Marc Tedetti
    • 2
  • Catherine Guigue
    • 2
  • Madeleine Goutx
    • 2
  • Hatem Zaghden
    • 3
  • Sami Sayadi
    • 3
  • Boubaker Elleuch
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ingénierie de l’Environnement et d’Ecotechnologie, ENISUniversité de SfaxSfaxTunisia
  2. 2.Aix-Marseille Univ, Université de Toulon, CNRS, IRD, MIO UM 110MarseilleFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire des Bioprocédés Environnementaux, Centre de Biotechnologie de SfaxSfaxTunisia

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