Researchers reveal the damage caused by Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico|Seabed Abysmal

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March 28, 2012

Researchers reveal the damage caused by Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico



The researchers, with the aid of submarines, have shown the effects of oil platform in the tissues of deep-water coral colonies

Six months after the accident in April 2010, the rig Deepwater Horizon, which generated a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a group of scientists from several U.S. institutions conducted an oceanographic survey to investigate the effects of disaster marine life in the region.

They focused on communities of deep water species that live at 1,300 feet below the surface, such as coral colonies. Thanks to underwater robots could explore a relatively extensive.

In the colonies located about 20 kilometers from the platform, corals showed no damage, but where were about 11 kilometers were covered with a brown substance and tissue damage appreciated.



In the first campaign, in October 2010, scientists were unable to clearly associate the origin of the dense substance to the discharge of the Deepwater Horizon, but on a later expedition, in December of that year, analyzes were performed on corals and identified the signing of oil spilled in the accident. Helen White (Haverford College, Pennsylvania) and colleagues present the results of this research in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).

Coral colonies of deep water, usually bright yellow, are obscured in these colonies Gofo of Mexico affected by the dumping of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon.

"Biological communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico are separated from human activity on the surface for more than a mile of water and did not expect the deep-sea corals were affected by the typical oil spill," White said in a statement the National Science Foundation (NSF) U.S..

"But given the unprecedented nature of this spill, its effects are broader than the little that occur on the surface."

The research, part of a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Office of Ocean Energy Management, used the remotely operated submarine Jason II, which were inspected in nine places at distances over 20 miles of rugged platform and points closer to it. The scientists found damaged communities within 11 kilometers of the spill, to the southwest.

"As the submarine approached coral community enough to have good vision, it became obvious that something was wrong: it was all too white and brown, and coral and sea stars did not show enough color," explains Charles Fischer (Penn State).

In December 2010, scientists made another expedition in the area using the Sentry AUV, to map and photograph the seabed, and the Alvin, with capacity in the fall for the pilot and two scientists. Furthermore, this submarine could take samples of corals and sediments.

Since the oil can flow from the cracks in the seafloor in the region, it was difficult to determine the source of oil in the coral samples.

But thanks to a technique called gas chromatography, which separates compounds by their molecular weight oil, scientists have identified the footprint of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon.

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