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Beachcombing for Deepwater Horizon

Gulf Coast Beachcombers

Students and volunteers search a beach along the Gulf of Mexico for "sand paddies," clumps of sand and oil. The sand paddies they collected were logged into a weathered oil repository for later analysis. Collecting crews have combed beaches from Pensacola, Florida to Grand Isle, Louisiana, and beyond several times each year since the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010. WHOI marine chemist Chris Reddy, research specialist Bob Nelson, and colleagues from Gulf state universities are using sophisticated techniques such as two-dimensional gas chromatography to track the fate of the oil and its breakdown products. (Photo by Michael McNulty, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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