Oil stranded by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill has persisted in subsurface sediments of exposed shores for 16 years. With annualized loss rates declining from ???68% yr-1 prior to 1992 to ???4% yr-1 after 2001, weathering processes are retarded in both sediments and residual emulsified oil ("oil mousse"), and retention of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is prolonged. The n-alkanes, typically very readily oxidized by microbes, instead remain abundant in many stranded emulsified oil samples from the Gulf of Alaska. They are less abundant in Prince William Sound samples, where stranded oil was less viscous. Our results indicate that, at some locations, remaining subsurface oil may persist for decades with little change. ?? 2007 American Chemical Society.
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Slightly weathered Exxon Valdez oil persists in Gulf of Alaska beach sediments after 16 years