Category Archives: Research Stories

GoMRI AU news stories

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Identifying the “Missing Link” Between River-Induced Fronts and Hydrocarbon Transport 3859a

Researcher Oscar Garcia-Pineda demonstrates some of the methods the team uses to collect imagery and samples of floating oil near MC20. (Provided by Villy Kourafalou) The flow of the Mississippi River into the northern Gulf of Mexico may have caused circulation patterns and fronts that significantly influenced the transport and fate of Deepwater Horizon oil. Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch StoriesVideo and Podcasts GoMRI RFP-V: Impact of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on behaviors of fishers in Gulf of Mexico (Saul) 3761

The Avoiding Surprises: understanding the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the decision making behaviors of fishers and how this affects the assessment and management of commercially important fish species in the Gulf of Mexico using an agent-base project is lead by Steven Saul, Arizona State University. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill disrupted Read More

Research Stories Study Provides 1st Large-Scale Blue Crab Transcriptome Resource for Insights into Oil Exposure 3849a

Louisiana scientists conducted genetic sequencing on oil-exposed blue crabs to identify genes involved in the blue crabs’ short-term responses to oil. They found approximately 200 genes were significantly up- or down-regulated in gill and hepatopancreatic tissues and about 4,000 genes differed in how their transcripts were spliced together after oil-exposure. The gene expression changes suggest Read More

Research Stories Investigating Louisiana Dolphins’ Reproductive Health After Deepwater Horizon 3838a

Concern about how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may continue to negatively affect wild bottlenose dolphins living in the spill’s footprint remains high. Researchers supporting the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) studied live and stranded dolphins in the heavily affected area of Louisiana’s Barataria Bay and reported that exposed dolphins exhibited increased lung disease, adrenal Read More

Research Stories Identifying Toxic Components in Fresh and Weathered Crude Oil 3806a

Hydrocarbons associated with oil spills can have harmful effects on humans and organisms, yet little is known about the specific compounds that contribute to toxicity. The ability to identify and quantify oil’s key toxic compounds will help improve predictions of future spills’ effects on human health and marine ecosystems. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories OneGulf Voyage Gathers Unprecedented Marine Samples for Two Oil Spills 3699a

An international science team recently completed a 4,000-mile expedition to learn more about the long-term fate of two of the world’s largest subsea oil spills, the 1979 Ixtoc-I and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon. The 40-day Gulf of Mexico voyage continued their 2015 field campaign, contributing to a multi-year Gulf-wide analysis of these oil spills and Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories GoMRI RFP-V: Wetland plant-microbial-benthic ecosystem responses & mitigation strategy (Lin) Researcher Qianxin Lin

The Long-Term Impact, Recovery and Resilience: Wetland plant-microbial-benthic ecosystem responses to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and mitigation strategies promoting sustainability by P.I. Qianxin Lin, Louisiana State University The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill exposed the nation’s largest and most productive wetland estuarine environment, the Mississippi River Delta coastal wetland ecosystem, to an unprecedented potential Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Can Bacteria Living in Plant Tissues Help Clean Up Oiled Marshes? Postdoc Brittany Bernik strains marsh mud through a screen to prepare it for greenhouse experiments at Tulane University. (Photo by Sunshine Van Bael)

Living inside the roots and leaf tissues of marsh grass are bacteria and fungi known as endophytes that help promote plant growth. Since some endophytes can also help degrade petroleum that the plants absorb, it is possible they could be a natural tool to help clean up oil buried in marsh soils. The Gulf of Read More

Research Stories Scientists Use Oil Spill Research to Track Pollution in Biscayne Bay The CARTHE team is receiving data from 15 biodegradable, GPS-equipped drifters. This image shows the tracks after 24 hours. (Image by CARTHE)

It’s almost like a game of tug-of-war. There are growing numbers of residents, tourists, and industry at one end and the environment where people live, work, and play at the other. When the former increases, the latter is stressed. This scenario plays out all over the world, especially in coastal areas. Biscayne Bay near Miami, Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories GoMRI RFP-V: Oil Spill Transport in a Coupled Wind-Wave Current Environment (Drennan) Researcher William Drennan

The Investigation of Oil Spill Transport in a Coupled Wind-Wave Current Environment Using Simulation and Laboratory Studies project is lead by P.I. William M. Drennan, University of Miami. This project aims at studying the transport of oil droplets in upper oceans subject to actions of Langmuir cells and breaking waves and the transport of oiled Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories GoMRI RFP-V: Synergistic Dispersant & Herding Systems using Tubular Clay & Gel Phase (John) Researcher John Vjay

The Design of Synergistic Dispersant and Herding Systems using Tubular Clay Structures and Gel Phase Materials project is lead by P.I. Vijay John, Tulane University. Dispersants are typically solutions containing one or more surfactants dissolved in a solvent. They work by reducing the interfacial tension between oil and water, thereby reducing the work needed to Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Improving How Oil Spill Models Predict Plume Dispersion and Transport A Large Eddy Simulation of oil droplet (color contours) and gas bubble (white lines) plumes emerging from 1500 m below the surface into a stratified ocean, including 3D Coriolis force and west-to-east current effects. (Simulation performed by Dr. Di Yang, University of Houston)

Deep ocean oil plumes that formed from the Deepwater Horizon spill and their subsequent rise through the water column were greatly influenced by physical mixing mechanisms such as turbulence, Langmuir circulations, and sub-mesoscale eddies. These mixing processes are crucial variables needed for existing models to accurately predict a plume’s overall size, shape, and transport direction. Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories GoMRI RFP-V: Biodegradation & ecosystem recovery in coastal marine sediments (Huettel) Researcher Markus Huettel

Markus Huettel gives an overview of the project at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference January 2016 The A systems approach to improve predictions of biodegradation and ecosystem recovery in coastal marine sediments impacted by oil spill project is lead by P.I. Markus Huettel, Florida State University. After coastal oil spills, Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Bringing Marine Snow to the Oil Transport Forecast A photograph of oil-marine snow aggregates at the water’s surface in the Gulf of Mexico, May 2011. (Photo by Andrew Warren)

Evidence suggests that when oil interacts with particles in the marine environment, it can form larger, rapidly sinking particles called marine snow. These oily aggregates are often transported from the sea surface to the seafloor. The snow falls more like a heavy blizzard than a light flurry for large discharges such as the Deepwater Horizon Read More

Research StoriesVideo and Podcasts GoMRI RFP-V: Horse fly populations & food web dynamics as stress indicators on coastal marsh (Foil) 3368

Claudia Husseneder gives an overview of the project at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference January 2016 A Study of horse fly (Tabanidae) populations and their food web dynamics as indicators of the effects of environmental stress on coastal marsh health project is lead by P.I. Lane Foil, Louisiana State University Read More

Research StoriesVideo and Podcasts The Mud and Blood Cruise – The Whole Story (Dispatches from the Gulf) Dispatches_Logo

The Weatherbird embarks on a two-week research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Its mission is to collect and analyze fish and soil samples near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Dave Hollander and Steve Murawski from the University of South Florida lead the team of oceanographers. The research is divided into two Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Investigating How Complex Deepwater Topography Influences Oil Dispersion 3207a

    The active environment of the Gulf of Mexico’s continental slope contains diverse currents that are difficult to simulate and predict. We know that turbulence is an essential mechanism for hydrocarbon transport and subsurface oil plume dispersion, but we still have much to learn about the complex processes behind this area’s diverse currents. The Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Identifying Effective, Food-Grade Dispersants for the Future 3207

Oil spill responders currently have the option to treat oil spills with a synthetic dispersant called Corexit, however scientists continue to search for alternatives. In this search, scientists seek to develop an understanding of the specific mechanisms that drive dispersion and identify an effective combination of food-grade components. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Read More

Research Stories ACER’s primary study site – The Chandeleur Islands 3180

Many of ACER’s field experiments are being conducted around the Chandeleur Islands. These uninhabited barrier islands lie about 60 miles east of New Orleans and 30 miles south of Biloxi, MS helping to protect eastern Louisiana from waves and storms. Landward (west) of the island chain lies Chandeleur Sound and seaward (east) lies the Gulf Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Digging Up the Mechanisms of Buried Oil Degradation 3114a

Spilled oil buried in nearshore sediment can persist for many years and act as a long-term source of episodic hydrocarbon contamination in the environment. Although we have a basic understanding of how fast crude oil degrades in soils, we still do not fully understand what influences the degradation process or the microbial community responsible for Read More

Research Stories An Ocean Oil Spill Science Legacy 3066

There have been two large scale oil spills over the past 4 decades in the Gulf of Mexico. The Ixtoc I spill in 1979 off the coast of Carmen, Mexico released 3.5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, and the Macondo wellhead blowout off the coast of Louisiana, USA in 2010 released 3.19 Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Unraveling the Mystery of Oil Compounds, Weathering, and Toxicity 3071a

Responders to the Deepwater Horizon spill used large quantities of dispersant to facilitate oil biodegradation, but could a different method be safer for the environment? Oil compounds take on additional oxygen atoms as physical and chemical processes weather them. However, the classical methods that scientists use to analyze and describe these molecular compositional changes cannot Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Using Luminescent Radiation to Describe “Forgotten” PAHs 3049a

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with high molecular weights (HMW-PAHs) are potentially toxic compounds that can cause genetic mutations. However, current environmental monitoring and analyses of human health risks only focus on the sixteen PAHs that the Environmental Protection Agency considers priority pollutants. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative awarded Dr. Andres D. Campiglia a grant to Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Now Available: Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment Reports 3027

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is pleased to announce the release of two reports detailing the results of the Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment (HIE). The first report, the Summary of Results from the 2014/2015 Hydrocarbon Intercalibration Experiment (HIE), provides an overview of all test results involved in the experiment. The second report, the2014/2015 Hydrocarbon Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Assessing Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impacts on Families and Children 3006

Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the National Center for Disaster Preparedness surveyed households in highly-affected Louisiana areas to track the event’s health and social impacts. Follow up studies in 2014 revealed that physical and mental distress resulting from the spill still persisted, with over 15% of respondents reporting no perceived recovery of their Read More

Research StoriesVideo and Podcasts Ten Outstanding Education Products Six Years After Deepwater Horizon 2912_sm

Communicating oil spill research is essential to improve society’s understanding about spills and their ability to respond to and mitigate them. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has been funding spill-related research since 2010. Here are ten outstanding education products and resources that GoMRI and its science community have developed to share what they Read More

Research StoriesVideo and Podcasts Sneak Peek Screening of Dispatches from the Gulf video_announcement

Six Years After the Largest Oil Spill in U.S. History A New Film By Marilyn & Hal Weiner. Narrated By Matt Damon. April 20, 2016 @ 2 pm & 7 pm EDT Tune to our Live Stream channel to watch: https://www.youtube.com/c/ScreenscopeJ2PE/live _________________________________________________________________________________ Dispatches From The Gulf investigates the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Featuring Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Using Acoustics to Monitor Oil and Gas from Deep Natural Seafloor Seeps 2784a

There is a lot of action at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. A turbulent mixed layer of water and sediment particles known as the bottom boundary layer circulates counterclockwise across the seafloor, flowing against the water above. Meanwhile, oil and gas naturally seep into this active environment from the seafloor. Scientists are investigating Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories LASER Focus Advances Knowledge of How Gulf of Mexico Water Moves 2758a_sm

CARTHE conducts unprecedented experiment to improve oil fate models. Predictions for decisions – our world relies on them, from daily weather to annual financial forecasts. Predictions, though, are only as good as the information that goes into making them. And those predictions carry even more weight when they involve human safety in situations like storm Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories What Can Horse Flies Tell Us About Marsh Health? 2718a

Greenhead horse fly larvae live in Spartina marshes and are the top predator in the coastal wetlands invertebrate food chain between Texas and Nova Scotia. Drs. Lane Foil and Claudia Husseneder discovered reduced genetic variation and severe declines in adult and larval horse fly populations living in oiled marshes, which showed that the horse flies Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Creating Improved Dispersants and Delivery Systems for Oil Spill Mitigation 2592a300

Research about commercial dispersant safety has seen increased efforts to identify benign alternatives and improve current dispersant systems since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Preliminary research suggests that dispersants formulated as gels may be a viable alternative to liquid dispersants and may address certain problems and concerns about Corexit 9500 use and application. The Gulf Read More

Research Stories CONCORDE Blog Informs Readers on Glider Research 2435

An update to the CONCORDE blog documents the latest deployment of the RU31 glider. Researchers Travis Miles and Oscar Schofield used the glider to document temperature, salinity, colored dissolved organic matter, density, chlorophyll, and oxygen saturation. Click here to view the blog….

Research Stories ECOGIG Maps Naturally Occurring Gulf of Mexico Seeps ecogiglogo

Researchers recently developed a comprehensive analysis Gulf oil and determined how much came from natural or Deepwater Horizon sources. They used their findings to map the locations of active natural oil seeps.   For more information…  The entire paper can be found at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JC011062/full

Research Stories Researchers Seek New Insights from Decades-Old Spill C-IMAGE_Ixtoc-I_2279a

The Ixtoc I blowout happened in the Bay of Campeche over thirty-five years ago, so why are scientists studying this spill now? Because understanding what happened to Ixtoc I oil may help predict if and how Deepwater Horizon oil will degrade, persist, and impact northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystems over the next few decades. A Read More

Research Stories Discovering Vibrant, Dynamic Life in the Deep Gulf of Mexico Deepend_Melanocetus-johnsoni_Y-WEB

DEEPEND expands knowledge as a restoration tool for the Gulf’s largest ecosystem Much uncertainty remains about impacts on the deep-sea environment from the 2010 oil spill that erupted more than 5,000 feet below the sea surface. However, knowing what was affected or what may change in the future is particularly difficult with little to no Read More

Research Stories CARTHE Webpage Features LASER Experiment 2378

The LAgrangian Submesoscale ExpeRiment (LASER) now has its own home on the consortium website. For information about the experiment’s design and progress, visit the LASER homepage and check out the CARTHE blog.  

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Understanding How Deepwater Horizon Affected Fishing Community Decisions fishing_communities_2187

Authorities closed large portions of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial and recreational fishing following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to contain and mitigate oil contamination of fish and seafood products. The fishing closures may have caused many fishers to search for alternative income solutions, such as relocating or chartering their vessels for the cleanup Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Understanding Coastal Ecosystems Response to Environmental Stress Acer_Env_Stress_2193

ACER investigates biodiversity’s role in oil spill recovery Disturbances to coastal environments, such as storms and pollution, cause great concern as these areas are typically heavily populated, are home to important industries, and provide critical ecosystem services. Ecologists have debated coastal ecosystems response to disturbances for decades. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill focused this debate Read More

GoMRI ScientistsLinksResearch Stories Smithsonian Highlights How Scientists Use Genomics to Study Oil Spills genomics_2206

Genomics is a powerful method to track things that humans cannot see. Months and years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, many people wondered where the oil went or where it might be lingering or what it may affect after it was no longer visible. Scientists are using genomic techniques such as DNA sequencing to Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories How Scientists are Monitoring the Harmful Algal Bloom Algal_Bloom_2166

It’s a catchy name, but the common phrase “Red Tide” for the algal bloom happening right now in the northern Gulf of Mexico is not quite right, scientifically. The bloom is not always red and it’s not always related to tides. However, the name does invoke a sense of concern about a potential threat to Read More

Fact SheetsResearch Stories Deep-C Helps Develop New Ocean Modelling Software opendrift_2040

A new, open source software for modeling the trajectories and fate of particles (Lagrangian Elements) drifting in the ocean, or even in the atmosphere, has been developed a the Norwegian Meteorological Institute in cooperation with the Institute of Marine Research. The software, known as OpenDrift, is a generic framework written in Python. It is openly Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Understanding Oil Transport in Coastal Waters Understanding Oil Transport

CONCORDE studies sub-surface exposure pathways After the Deepwater Horizon incident, the coastline oiling that occurred raised questions about oil movement and impact. For example, before a surface slick reached land, was there oil below the surface waters and how might that affect coastal environments and organisms? The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative recently awarded CONCORDE Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Smithsonian Highlights Oil Spill Research on Jellyfish Jellyfish_1318

Jellyfish push water in and out of their bells to propel themselves forward. Researchers are investigating if and how the small underwater waves and currents created by Jellyfish movements can help break up oil spilled in marine ecosystems. The Smithsonian posted an article featuring scientist Brad Gemmell’s research about interactions of gelatinous zooplankton with oil. Read More

Research Stories Scientists Coordinate Research with Responders in Santa Barbara Oil Spill Crews clean-up the oil using boom operations off the coast of Goleta, Calif., May 21, 2015. The clean-up operation for the spill began the evening of Tuesday May 19, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Anderson)

One of the most significant outcomes of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has been the fostering of a multi-disciplinary collaborative academic community ready to put science into practice. Members of the GoMRI community have been cultivating relationships with emergency responders so that science gets to the right people at the right time. These Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories Smithsonian Features GoMRI Research on Methane-Eating Microbes Methane bubbles rise through a bed of mussels near the Pascagoula Dome. (Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program)

During the Deepwater Horizon incident, both oil and methane entered the surrounding marine environment from the Macondo reservoir. Scientists are investigating the released methane’s effects on deep-sea ecosystems. The Smithsonian published a story featuring the work of three GoMRI scientists – Samantha Joye, Jeff Chanton, and Frank Hernandez – who are examining microbes that feed on Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch StoriesVideo and Podcasts Tracking Marine Mammal Recovery after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill LADC-GEMM

LADC-GEMM studies acoustic signals in spill vicinityDid whale and dolphin populations change after the oil spill? Prior monitoring indicated that large numbers of these deep-diving marine mammals were living near the Deepwater Horizon site. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative recently awarded the LADC-GEMM consortium a grant to study endangered sperm whales, beaked whales, and Read More

Research Stories Little Critters that tell a BIG Story: Benthic Foraminifera and the Gulf Oil Spill Source: Noora Al-Meer, Flicker (http://www.flickr.com/photos/makkorani/3597167191/in/photostream/)

You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are, so let’s start with the basics. Simply put, forams are single-celled organisms related to the familiar amoeba that produce a hard shell. These shells look like the shells you might pick up on the beach, but they are much smaller—most are Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories GoMRI Advances Science Four Years after Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2803a

Since August 2011, eight research consortia funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) have been working hard to understand impacts from and responses to the Deepwater Horizonincident. Their work represents the efforts of over 1,000 people, including 400 scientists and 275 graduate students, from over 100 national and international institutions. When asked about Read More

Research Stories Students Are Field Tested During Emergency Response To Hercules Blowout students_hercules_2036

In the early morning hours on Monday July 23rd 2013 the Hercules 252 rig blew out, spewing a mixture of gas, condensate, and possibly other hydrocarbons into the water and air. In four days, senior scientists – members of five Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) consortia – assembled a team and plan, obtained the Read More

Research Stories Deepwater Horizon, Three Years Later – August 6, 2013 The oil slick as imaged on 24 May 2010 by the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA

BP-funded research aims to understand and mitigate impacts of hydrocarbon pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. (From physicstoday / by Rachel Berkowitz) — On 20 April 2010 the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling rig operating in the Mocando Prospect, a drilling block in the Gulf of Mexico, experienced a catastrophic failure that resulted in Read More

Citizen ScienceResearch Stories CARTHE and DEEP-C Inspire Future Scientists Left: 12-year old Kevin Telfer from Boston, MA, with the prototype drifter buoy he and a fellow science partner Harrison Reiter built and field tested for their science fair project titled, “Deployment of a Drifter Buoy in the Sudbury River: Prototype Design and Results.” (Photo by Brian Telfer) Right: High school sophomore Elizabeth Smithwick from Jacksonville, FL, collects soil samples along the St. Johns River for her science fair project titled, “The Isolation, Examination, and Comparison of Hydrocarbon Degrading Bacteria in the St. Johns River.” (Photo provided by Elizabeth Smithwick)

Scientists conducting GoMRI-funded oil spill research take their mission regarding society seriously: They employ cutting-edge technology to collect and analyze data using rigorous scientific parameters and publish their findings. But there are other ways these researchers define success, like working with students. When young students seek answers to scientific questions and contact them, these scientists Read More

GoMRI ScientistsResearch Stories MEIOFAUNA: Getting Down in the Mud 2352a

Know what meiofauna is? Most people have to look it up. Stephen Landers, professor in the Biological and Environmental Sciences department at Troy University, focuses the majority of his research on the tiny invertebrates that populate the ocean floor. Meiofauna seem to fall through the cracks, don’t they?  It is common to read about research Read More

Research Stories Can an Oil Spill Make Your Genes Fat? 2407a

Obesity and other metabolic diseases are major global health issues that are generally thought to be determined by family genes. However, a growing body of science on epigenetics (heritable changes in gene function that do not involve changes in gene/DNA sequence) indicates that the environment can change trait development at the fetal stage and the Read More