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In-Situ Burning in the Marshland Environment - Soil Temperatures Resulting From Crude Oil and Diesel Fuel Burns (NIST SP 995)



Nelson P. Bryner, William D. Walton, W H. Twilley, G Roadarmel, I. A. Mendelssohn, J. V. Mullin


A series of burns was conducted to evaluate the impact of intentional burning of an oil spill in a marshland environment. Oil spilled in sensitive wetland environments pose unique problems associated with cleanup because mechanical recovery in wetlands 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. Many factors, including plant species, fuel type and load, water level, soil type, burn duration, may influence how well a wetland recovers from an in-situ oil burn. Ten burns were conducted in a 6 m tank to expose 80 plant specimens to conditions which were designed to simulate a spill of diesel fuel and the intentional burning of the spilled oil. Plants were positioned at four different elevations, -10 cm, -2 cm, 0 cm and +10 cm, relative to water level. Forty of the plants were instrumented with thermocouples in order to monitor soil temperatures during burns which lasted for either 400 s or 1400 s. The soil temperature data indicate that a 2 cm layer of water should provide sufficient protection to prevent permanent damage to the plant/root system.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


in situ burning, oil spills, diesel fuels, heat flux, crude oil, temperature, wind direction, wind velocity, uncertainty, salt water, pool fires


Bryner, N. , Walton, W. , Twilley, W. , Roadarmel, G. , Mendelssohn, I. and Mullin, J. (2003), In-Situ Burning in the Marshland Environment - Soil Temperatures Resulting From Crude Oil and Diesel Fuel Burns (NIST SP 995), Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 23, 2024)


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Created March 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017