Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Here is the oil in the gulf? FSU researcher takes a look

26.01.2016

A Florida State University researcher and his team have developed a comprehensive analysis of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and determined how much of it occurs naturally and how much came from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

And more importantly, their data creates a map, showing where the active natural oil seeps are located.


Nature oil seeps, as the one shown here, are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico.

Courtesy of Ian MacDonald

The research was recently released online by the Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans and is also the basis for a paper with researchers at Columbia University published today in Nature Geoscience.

In total, 4.3 million barrels were released into the Gulf from the oil spill versus an annual release of 160,000 to 600,000 barrels per year from naturally occurring seeps, according to the new results.

"This information gives us context for the Deepwater Horizon spill," said FSU Professor of Oceanography Ian MacDonald. "Although natural seeps are significant over time, the spill was vastly more concentrated in time and space, which is why its impact was so severe."

Among the findings was that dispersants were able to eliminate about 21 percent the oil that floated on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico after the spill, but at the cost of spreading the remaining oil over a 49 percent larger area.

This map of oil also provides a basis for additional scientific research.

Using this new set of data, scientists will be able to go to a controlled area where they already know oil exists and perform controlled observations, as opposed to spilling new oil into an area. It also shows how the Gulf has adapted to natural oil seeps.

Researcher Ajit Subramaniam, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, used the data set to focus on natural oil seeps and discovered something unusual -- phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain -- were thriving in the area of these natural oil seeps. The results published in Nature Geoscience show that phytoplankton concentrations near the oil seeps were as much as twice as productive as those a few kilometers away where there were no seeps.

"This is the beginning of evidence that some microbes in the Gulf may be preconditioned to survive with oil, at least at lower concentrations," Subramaniam said. "In this case, we clearly see these phytoplankton are not negatively affected at low concentrations of oil, and there is an accompanying process that helps them thrive. This does not mean that exposure to oil at all concentrations for prolonged lengths of time is good for phytoplankton."

MacDonald had been working on data using satellite images of natural oil seeps for 10 years, and added in the Deepwater Horizon spill work a few years ago.

"It's giving us a basis for all of these other experiments," MacDonald said. "It's really revolutionizing how we look at the Gulf. It also gives scientists the exact geographic points where oil from the spill was located, so researchers can go to the Gulf floor and explore the area to see if there has been any environmental effect."

###

This research was funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Media Contact

Kathleen Haughney
khaughney@fsu.edu
850-644-1489

 @floridastate

http://www.fsu.edu 

Kathleen Haughney | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht All-in-one: New microbe degrades oil to gas
20.08.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht New artificial compound eye could improve 3D object tracking
20.08.2019 | The Optical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

Im Focus: Self healing robots that "feel pain"

Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.

Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...

Im Focus: Scientists create the world's thinnest gold

Scientists at the University of Leeds have created a new form of gold which is just two atoms thick - the thinnest unsupported gold ever created.

The researchers measured the thickness of the gold to be 0.47 nanometres - that is one million times thinner than a human finger nail. The material is regarded...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

All-in-one: New microbe degrades oil to gas

20.08.2019 | Life Sciences

Spinning lightwaves on a one-way street

20.08.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Materials that can revolutionize how light is harnessed for solar energy

20.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>