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The impact of the Gulf War (1990 – 91) oil release upon the intertidal Gulf coast line of Saudi Arabia and subsequent recovery

  • David Alan Jones
  • Miles Hayes
  • Friedhelm Krupp
  • Gino Sabatini
  • Iain Watt
  • Lee Weishar

Abstract

The 1991 Gulf War oil release was over three times greater than any other oil spill in the world and left an estimated 0.9–1.9 million barrels of oil deposited intertidally on Saudi Arabian shores. Surveys conducted by Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME, former MEPA) and other scientific groups confirmed that all intertidal habitats were impacted, with those on the high shore particularly effected, as the oil came ashore on equinoctial spring tides. However, despite predictions of total community collapse, individual habitats could still be recognised on the basis of surviving biota. Long term monitoring of biotic recovery (1991 – 95) based on 10 transects predicted recovery times to be similar to those reported for oil spills elsewhere in the world. However, further extensive surveys in 2002–2003 found large volumes of buried oil trapped under sand on beaches and under microbial mats in salt marshes together with tarcrete pavements. These surveys revealed that 64% of mangroves, 70% of salt marshes, 88% of tidal flats, 90% of sand beaches and 90% of rocky shores remained impacted with lower diversity than that found on none oil polluted control shores. As a result predicted recovery times were revised and extended to over a century for habitats such as marshes without tidal flushing. In 2005 funding was awarded for remediation by the United Nations Compensation Commission.

Keywords

Salt Marsh Saudi Arabia Tidal Flat Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Rocky Shore 
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

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Alan Jones
    • 1
  • Miles Hayes
    • 2
  • Friedhelm Krupp
    • 3
  • Gino Sabatini
    • 4
  • Iain Watt
    • 5
  • Lee Weishar
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Ocean SciencesUniversity of Wales BangorUK
  2. 2.Research Planning Inc.ColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History MuseumFrankfurt a.M.Germany
  4. 4.D’IbervilleMontrealCanada
  5. 5.IOMEC. Grand GaubeMauritius
  6. 6.Woods Hole GroupEast FalmouthUSA

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