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Anecdotal data are currently the best data available to describe baseline conditions of beached oil tar balls on Florida’s First Coast beaches. This study combines field methods and numerical modeling to define a data-driven knowledge base of oil tar ball baseline conditions. Outcomes from the field study include an established methodology for field data collection and laboratory testing of beached oil tar balls, spatial maps of collected samples and analysis of the data as to transport/wash-up trends. Archives of the electronic data, including GPS locations and other informational tags, and collected samples are presented, as are the physical and chemical analyses of the collected samples. The thrust of the physical and chemical analyses is to differentiate the collected samples into highly suspect oil tar balls versus false/non-oil tar ball samples. The numerical modeling involves two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations of astronomic tides. Results from the numerical modeling include velocity residuals that show ebb-dominated residual currents exiting the inlet via an offshore, counter-rotating dual-eddy system. The tidally derived residual currents are used as one explanation for the observed transport trends. The study concludes that the port activity in the St. Johns River is not majorly contributing to the baseline conditions of oil tar ball wash-up on Florida’s First Coast beaches.


Published in Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. 2014; 2(1), 160 – 170.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.