Deepwater Horizon Spill under Scientific Scrutiny

Deepwater Horizon Spill Under Scientific ScrutinyA multi-disciplinary team of scientists launched the second expedition in the Gulf of Mexico to examine the effects of Deepwater Horizon spill-related oil and dispersant exposure on deep-water shipwrecks and their microbial communities.


The study is part of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program that is sponsored by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and George Mason University (Mason).

The expedition will return to five shipwrecks examined by the team in March 2014, and plans to investigate up to five additional shipwrecks.

Sites are located both within and outside of the spill area, and will be comparatively analyzed to determine if resident microbial communities’ exposure to hydrocarbons and dispersant affects the natural process of wood degradation and metal corrosion in the deep-water marine environment.

Using a Remotely Operated Vehicle, the scientists will collect high-resolution video and photos; sediment, water, biological, and other samples; and retrieve short-term microbiological experiments deployed near the five shipwrecks when they were previously visited. Experiments will also be deployed at the new sites for long-term monitoring purposes.

BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program provides the information needed to predict, assess, and manage impacts from Outer Continental Shelf offshore oil and gas, marine minerals, and renewable energy exploration, development, and production on the human, coastal, and marine environments.

Press Release; July 22nd, 2014