Oil in the Ocean
The systematic study of oil in the ocean is relatively new to science, but since the late 1960s it has grown to encompass almost every area of oceanography.
Because oil is not a single substance, scientists face a number of challenges when it enters an environment as complex as the ocean. Crude oil and many refined petroleum products are a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals, each one with a distinct set of behaviors and potential effects when released into the marine environment. Some of these substances differ only in the location or orientation of a single carbon atom on a long molecular chain involving dozens of atoms.
Despite this, even chemicals with nearly the same molecular structure can behave very differently once they enter the water, atmosphere, sediments, or an organism. As a result, scientists who study oil in marine settings often say that every spill is different and find that they must ask a unique set of questions every time they focus on a new location or event.
To learn more about WHOI's oil spill research efforts, visit the Oil in the Ocean website.
From Oceanus Magazine
Scientists followed evidence from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to discover an unexpected phenomenon.
A new discovery could change the way officials approach oil spill cleanups.
WHOI scientists are helping to develop a robotic underwater vehicle that can track oil spills and help responders mitigate damage in remote or ice-covered areas such as the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes.
In the heat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, U.S. government and industry responders had to make a crucial decision.…