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A airplane sprays chemical dispersants on an oil slick during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Two new studies have shown that sunlight transforms oil spills on the ocean surface more significantly and quickly than previously thought. The phenomenon considerably limits the effectiveness of chemical dispersants, which are designed to break up floating oil and reduce the amount of oil that reaches coastlines. (Photo by Stephen Lehmann, U.S. Coast Guard)
A study published Aug. 28, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences adds a new dimension to the controversial decision to inject large amounts of chemical dispersants immediately above the crippled oil well at the seafloor during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion spilled roughly 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still working to answer the question: Where did all the oil go?
A new study has found that the dispersant compound DOSS, which decreases the size of oil droplets and hampers the formation of large oil slicks, remains associated with oil and can persist in the environment for up to four years.
Six scientists from WHOI have contributed to a new report finding "compelling evidence" that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has impacted deep-sea coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico. The study utilized all the National Deep Submergence Facility vehicles to investigate the corals, and employed an advanced technique pioneered at WHOI for use in oil spill research.
Using state-of-the-art chemical forensics and a bit of old-fashioned detective work, a research team led by scientists at WHOI confirmed that mysterious material found floating in the Gulf of Mexico came from the Deepwater Horizon rig. They further determined that tracking debris from damaged rigs can help forecast coastal impacts and guide response efforts in future spills.
Four WHOI Scientists Contribute to Comprehensive Picture of the Fate of Oil from Deepwater Horizon Spill
A new study provides a composite picture of the environmental distribution of oil and gas from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It amasses a vast collection of available atmospheric, surface and subsurface chemical data to assemble a "mass balance" of how much oil and gas was released, where it went and the chemical makeup of the compounds that remained in the air, on the surface, and in the deep water.
In a detailed assessment of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, researchers led by a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have determined that the blown-out Macondo well released oil at a rate of about 57,000 barrels a day, totaling approximately 5 million barrels of oil released from the well between April 20 and July 15, 2010, when the leak was capped. In addition, the well released some 100 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas.
In the first published study to explain the role of microbes in breaking down the oil slick on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers have come up with answers that represent both surprisingly good news and a head-scratching mystery.
Taking another major step in sleuthing the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a research team led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has determined what chemicals were contained in a deep, hydrocarbon-containing plume at least 22 miles long that WHOI scientists mapped and sampled last summer in the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
One year after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the northern Gulf of Mexico, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is unveiling a new multimedia website, Science in a Time of Crisis.
To combat last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nearly 800,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were injected directly into the oil and gas flow coming out of the wellhead nearly one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, as scientists begin to assess how well the strategy worked at breaking up oil droplets, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) chemist Elizabeth B. Kujawinski and her colleagues report that a major component of the dispersant itself was contained within an oil-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and had still not degraded some three months after it was applied.
The U.S. National Deep Submergence Facility has had a growing and important role in the ocean science community’s response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With the recent R/V Atlantis/Alvin expedition (Nov. 8 – Dec. 3), now each of the three NDSF vehicles has been employed in the Gulf, to characterize the plume, collect samples, and map and explore the seafloor for signs of the spill’s impact.
It may take years before scientists determine the full impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But, utilizing the human-occupied submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry, researchers are about to investigate—and view first-hand—the possible effects of the spill at the bottom of the Gulf. And, from Dec. 6-14, the mission will be relayed to the public as it happens on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) Dive and Discover website (http://divediscover.whoi.edu).
Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) detected and characterized a plume of hydrocarbons that is at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The work presents a forensic snapshot of the plume characteristics in June and is reported in a study appearing in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.
A multidisciplinary team of investigators from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution embarked June 17 for a twelve-day research effort in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the RV Endeavor, conducting three simultaneous projects funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) “RAPID” program. The projects aim to locate, map, and characterize subsurface oil plumes extending from the Deepwater Horizon well head using novel technology and the latest in biogeochemical techniques.
On June 1, 2010, members of the staff of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) participated in a meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., to consider possible alternative solutions to capping or controlling the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. The conclusions and recommendations of the Deep Ocean Task Force, the ad hoc group initiated and convened by director James Cameron, are now available online.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is partnering with two Louisiana institutions to determine the myriad impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil discharge into the Gulf of Mexico and to devise and implement possible solutions to the disaster.
A new study by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is the first to quantify the amount of oil residue in seafloor sediments that result from natural petroleum seeps off Santa Barbara, California.
A new method for assessing environmental contamination after oil spills is in danger of being applied in situations where it doesn't work and might produce false conclusions, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has warned.
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