Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons were measured on oil residues from beaches on six islands in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In addition to altered products from the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989, we also found, at two widely separated locations, residues that are similar to each other but chemically distinct from the spilled oil. Terpanes, steranes, monoaromatic steranes, and carbon isotopic compositions of total extracts were most useful in correlating the altered products of the spilled oil. These same parameters revealed that the two non-Valdez samples are likely residues of oil originally produced in California. The results indicate that oil residues currently on the beaches of this estuary have at least two quite different origins.
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Hydrocarbons in oil residues on beaches of islands of Prince William Sound, Alaska