Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill's Effects on Marine Snow

It has been five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the oil industry's largest environmental disasters. Where in 2010 an explosion caused the rig to sink into the sea and leak  millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of 87 days. Of course this event had devastating effects on the environment. Ever since this oil spill scientist have been studying the specific effects that this spill had.

Recently while on I came across an article about a new problem they have discovered. Research oceanographer Uta  Passow realized the oils effects on marine snow. Marine snow is when all the little particles of “gunk” in the ocean stick together “like dust bunnies in the house”. It make the water look like a snow storm. When the particles group together they are then heavy enough to sink which is the only way particles on the surface can reach the ocean bottom. This is a common important process in the Ocean, but dispersant Corexit used to clean up the spill inhibits marine snow. However it is has also been recently found that the oil may be reacting with the microbes and the plankton in the water to create alternative ways of marine snow. This is bad because it is allowing the oil to not just to cause damage on the surface, but to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor and cause damage there too.

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