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In-Situ Burning in the Marshland Environment - Recovery and Regrowth of Spartina Alterniflora, Spartina Patens, and Sagittaria Lancifolia Plants

Published

Author(s)

I A. Mendelson, Q N. Lin, Nelson P. Bryner, William D. Walton, W H. Twilley, J V. Mullin

Abstract

In a series of in-situ burns involving 330 plant mesocosms, including Spartina Alterniflora, Spartina Patens, Distichlis spicata, and Sagittaria Lancifolia sods were exposed to burning diesel fuel or crude oil. Oil spilled in sensitive wetlands pose unique problems associated with cleanup because mechanical recovery in a marsh may result in more damage to the wetland than the oil itself. In-situ burning of oiled wetlands may provide a less damaging alternative than traditional mechanical recovery. After exposure to burning fuel for either 400 s, 700 s or 1400s, the plants were returned to a greenhouse where the recovery and regrowth of the plants were monitored.One-third of the plants were instrumented with thermocouples to monitor the soil temperatures at different depths. Before each burn, the soil lines of the plant mesocosms were positioned at different elevations: +10 cm, +2 cm, 0 cm, -2 cm, and -10 cm relative to the water level. The water depth over the soil surface during in-situ burning was a key factor controlling marsh plant recovery. Ten and 2 centimeters of water overlying the soil surface were sufficient to protect marsh vegetation of all 3 types of marshes from burning impacts. Soil surface temperatures did not exceed 50 C and 70 C for 10 and 2 centimeters of water overlying the soil surface, respectively. Plant survival rate was 100 %, and growth responses after the burn with 10 and 2 cm of water over the soil surface was not significantly different from the unburned control. In contrast, a water table 2 cm below the soil surface (2 cm of soil exposure to the fire) during the burn resulted in high soil temperatures, with 70 C to 103 C at 0 to 0.5 cm below the soil surface. The effect of thermal stress on plant survival differed with species at 2 cm of water over the soil surface. Two cm of soil exposure impeded the post-burn recovery of the salt marsh grass, S. alterniflora, and fresh marsh species, S. lancifolia. However, 2 cm of soil exposure during in-situ burning did not detrimentally affect the post-burn recovery of the brackish marsh grasses, S. patens and D. spicata.
Citation
Arctic and Marine Oil Spill Program (AMOP) Technical Seminar

Keywords

crude oil, diesel fuel, in situ burning, marsh fires, oil fires, oil spill, plant recovery, plant regrowth, soil temperature

Citation

Mendelson, I. , Lin, Q. , Bryner, N. , Walton, W. , Twilley, W. and Mullin, J. (2003), In-Situ Burning in the Marshland Environment - Recovery and Regrowth of Spartina Alterniflora, Spartina Patens, and Sagittaria Lancifolia Plants, Arctic and Marine Oil Spill Program (AMOP) Technical Seminar, [online], https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=861479 (Accessed April 23, 2024)
Created February 28, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021