Source: American Society of Agronomy

Scientists are reporting a new technique for mapping and testing oil-contaminated soils. Traditionally, samples need to be collected from the field and returned to a lab for extensive chemical analysis, costing time and money when neither is readily available during a clean-up operation. The new method can take measurements in the field and accurately predict the total amount of petroleum contaminants in moist, unprepared soil samples.

The research team was led by soil scientists David Weindorf from Louisiana State University, Cristine Morgan of Texas Agrilife Research, and John Galbraith from Virginia Tech. The method they investigated used visible near infrared light with diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, shining a light on a sample and reading the reflecting wavelengths. This allowed the researchers to rapidly evaluate soils for the presence and amount of oil contamination while in the field, without sending a sample to a laboratory and waiting for test results. The technique was used to predict total petroleum hydrocarbons in a variety of soils in southern Louisiana.
Original press release