Reconstruction of hydrocarbons accumulation in sediments affected by the oil refinery industry: The case of Tehuantepec Gulf (Mexico)

Ana Carolina Ruiz-Fernández, Mario Sprovieri, Mauro Frignani, Joan Albert Sanchez-Cabeza, Maria Luisa Feo, Luca Giorgio Bellucci, Libia Hascibe Pérez-Bernal, Michel Preda, María Luisa Machain-Castillo

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The Isthmus of Tehuantepec corresponds to the shortest distance (~200 km) between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean in Southern Mexico, and the main economical activity of this region is oil extraction and refining. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs) were determined in a 210Pb dated sediment core collected from the continental shelf of Tehuantepec Gulf, in the vicinity of the oil refinery of Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, the main oil refining facility of the country. The sediments were mostly of coarse nature and hence PAHs and TPHs concentrations throughout the core (61-404 μg g -1 and 29-154 mg kg -1, respectively) were below international quality benchmarks. Depth profiles of both PAHs and TPHs concentrations showed increasing trends since the early 1900s but the higher values were found from the 1950s to present. PAH congener ratios showed that these contaminants had both petrogenic and pyrolitic sources, although the former has been predominant since the 1970s. The Salina Cruz refinery started operations in 1978 but the oil industry activities in the Tehuantepec Isthmus go back to the beginning of the twentieth century with the operation of Minatitlan refinery in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf of Tehuantepec being the main conduit for oil distribution in the Pacific coast. The observed changes in contaminant distributions described well the oil industry development in the area. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-742
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012


  • 210 Pb geochronology
  • Coastal sediments
  • PAHs
  • Petroleum industry
  • Tehuantepec Gulf
  • TPHs


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