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sampling oil on a beach

Oil Collectors

WHOI marine chemist Chris Reddy and colleagues have been collecting samples of oil washed up on beaches during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ever since the spill began, and archiving them. They are also analyzing samples to see how the oil is chemically altered by the environment over time, a process known as weathering. They collect samples of oil-covered sand, called “sand paddies,” as well as samples scraped off rocks. During sampling expeditions they cover a lot of ground, typically starting in the area around Pensacola, Fla., and working their way westward, across Mobile Bay to Dauphin Island, Ala., and finally to Louisiana. (Photo courtesy of Chris Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution )

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