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n-Alkanes as Indicators of Natural and Anthropogenic Organic Matter Sources in the Siak River and its Estuary, E Sumatra, Indonesia


Along the Siak River and its estuary a total of 100 sediment and 57 plant samples were taken for the analysis of n-alkanes from 2003 to 2005. Sediment n-alkanes exhibit in the majority of samples a pronounced odd over even predominance with maxima at C29 and C31 indicative of a plant origin. Plant n-alkanes analysed have chain lengths up to C39. These compounds are also present in the river sediments. In some plants the Carbon Preference Index (CPI) has extremely low values normally only found in petroleum-contaminated samples. A distinction between vegetation- and petroleum-derived n-alkanes is therefore only possible by a combination of CPI and and the absence/presence of a prominent unresolved complex mixture. Based on these criteria only a limited number of the 100 sediments analysed exhibit clear indications of a petroleum contamination.

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This study was carried out within the frame of the bilateral Indonesian-German research programme SPICE I (Science for the Protection of Indonesian Coastal Marine Ecosystems) sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant No. 03F0392B), the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (DKP) and the Ministry for Research and Technology (RISTEK). We are indebted to Joko Samiaji and his students of the University of Riau, Pekanbaru, Sumatra, for support during the field collections. Silke Meyer-Saoudi, Eva Witter and Cornelia Keuler helped with sample preparations.

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Correspondence to Gerd Liebezeit.

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Liebezeit, G., Wöstmann, R. n-Alkanes as Indicators of Natural and Anthropogenic Organic Matter Sources in the Siak River and its Estuary, E Sumatra, Indonesia. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 83, 403–409 (2009).

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  • Hydrocarbon
  • Alkane
  • Organic matter sources
  • River
  • Estuary
  • Coastal ocean
  • Sumatra
  • Indonesia