Two years of oil disaster in the Arabian Gulf

  • Thomas Höpner
  • Karl-Heinz van Bernem
  • Harald Felzmann
  • Holger Struck
Review Article Status Report


In January–February 1991, about 1 million m3 of crude oil were released into the Arabian Gulf as a means of ecological warfare. A stretch of 644 km along the Saudi Arabian coast was heavily polluted over a width between a few meters and more than one kilometer. In four studies performed between March 1991 and April 1993 the state of representative areas of the affected coast was examined with the result that only minor changes were found in those oiled zones which are seldom inundated by the tides. Technical measures up to 1993 did not exceed the test level. A biological regeneration process is in progress which was not recognized as such in analyses of previous coastal oil pollution. Cyanobacterial mats, containing hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, grow on oiled sediments which are regularly reached by tidal water. Shrinking and fracturing of the stable tar crusts starts a process of loosening and degrading of aged hydrocarbons.


Beach Asphalt Kuwait Wildlife Sanctuary Gulf Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Höpner
    • 1
  • Karl-Heinz van Bernem
    • 2
  • Harald Felzmann
    • 1
  • Holger Struck
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)Carl-von-Ossietzky-UniversitätOldenburg
  2. 2.GKSS-Research CenterGeesthachtGermany

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