Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible

March 08, 2012
Study showed recovery was possible for arthropods within a year if their host plants remained healthy

Crabs, insects and spiders living in coastal salt marshes affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster were damaged by the massive oil spill but were able to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy, according to a University of Houston study published Wednesday (March 7) in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

In one of the first studies to look at how oil spills affect salt marsh arthropods, Brittany McCall, a UH graduate student, and biology professor Steven Pennings, her adviser, sampled terrestrial arthropods and marine invertebrates at the time of the oil spill, as well as a year later.

The April 2010 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon resulted in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that washed ashore, damaging a number of coastal areas. McCall and Pennings received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study some of the coastal salt marshes affected by the spill. They gathered samples in areas where relatively low levels of oil were present but the plants still appeared healthy and undamaged. They found that in these areas, the numbers of crabs, insects and spiders were reduced by up to 50 percent because of the oil exposure.

"This study demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving," Pennings said. "Arthropods are quite vulnerable to oil exposure. These results are very important because they show that we can't assume that the marsh is healthy just because the plants are still alive."

However, the fact that some plant life remained intact in these areas apparently was key to how the arthropods recovered. When the UH researchers sampled the same areas a year later, all three groups appeared to have recovered, suggesting that arthropods affected by oil may recover if their host plants remain healthy.

"Salt marshes are commonly disturbed by natural events and, as a result, they may be able to also recover from oil spills if the oil disturbance is not too large," Pennings said.

Oil spills pose a major threat to coastal wetlands, but the exact environmental costs are difficult to measure because experiments cannot replicate large environmental catastrophes.

Because each oil spill is different, McCall and Pennings cautioned against extrapolating their results to all oil spills.

"The effect of oil on the marsh is likely to vary depending on how much oil gets ashore and how much it has weathered," McCall said. "In the case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the marshes may have dodged a bullet because relatively little oil made it into the marshes, and the oil had weathered for several weeks."

University of Houston


Related Oil Spill Current Events and Oil Spill News Articles


Dispersant from Deepwater Horizon Spill Found to Persist in the Environment
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest accidental release of oil into the ocean, with approximately 210 million gallons gushing from the blown out well.

Separating finely mixed oil and water
Whenever there is a major spill of oil into water, the two tend to mix into a suspension of tiny droplets, called an emulsion, that is extremely hard to separate - and that can cause severe damage to ecosystems.

Scientists identify Deepwater Horizon Oil on shore even years later, after most has degraded
Years after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, oil continues to wash ashore as oil-soaked "sand patties," persists in salt marshes abutting the Gulf of Mexico, and questions remain about how much oil has been deposited on the seafloor. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences have developed a unique way to fingerprint oil, even after most of it has degraded, and to assess how it changes over time.

New smart coating could make oil-spill cleanup faster and more efficient
In the wake of recent off-shore oil spills, and with the growing popularity of "fracking" - in which water is used to release oil and gas from shale - there's a need for easy, quick ways to separate oil and water.

Nanocellulose sponges to combat oil pollution
A new, absorbable material from Empa wood research could be of assistance in future oil spill accidents: a chemically modified nanocellulose sponge.

NRL Models Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; Shows Capability to Forecast Water Clarity During Naval Missions
Dr. Jason Jolliff is an oceanographer with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). "The emphasis here," he says, "is on developing models of the ocean environment to help the naval warfighter." His most recent paper, published in Ocean Modeling (March 2014), shows NRL can also forecast where oil will go following a major spill.

LSUHSC mental health care model reduced symptoms in those most affected by BP oil spill
A model of care developed by the Department of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine to provide mental health services after the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill reduced both mental health and general medical symptoms.

Stanford, NOAA scientists discover mechanism of crude oil heart toxicity
Scientists from Stanford University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered that crude oil interferes with fish heart cells. The toxic consequence is a slowed heart rate, reduced cardiac contractility and irregular heartbeats that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death.

High costs of research at universities made worse by funding gap
Although more opportunity exists for university-based researchers to be innovative, and there is more financial support for innovation than ever before, the cost of university research is rising to new levels and presents a serious funding problem.

Deep sea ecosystem may take decades to recover from Deepwater Horizon spill
The deep-sea soft-sediment ecosystem in the immediate area of the 2010's Deepwater Horizon well head blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will likely take decades to recover from the spill's impacts, according to a scientific paper reported in the online scientific journal PLoS One.
More Oil Spill Current Events and Oil Spill News Articles

Oil Spill! (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science)

Oil Spill! (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science)
by Melvin Berger (Author), Paul Mirocha (Illustrator)


Did you know that an oil spill occurs somewhere in the world almost every day of the year?Oil spills can have many different causes, but the result is the same. Oil harms plants and wildlife that make the oceans and coastlines their home. Scientists are learning the best ways to combat oil spills. Learn how you can help, too!

Oil Spill: Disaster

Oil Spill: Disaster
by Mona Chiang (Author), Cody Crane (Author)


Sometimes, a split second can change everything.

On April 20, 2010, disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico. The offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, causing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in American history. Every day for months on end, more than a million gallons of oil leaked into the water. As the oil company BP frantically tried to stop the spill, scientists and emergency response crews searched for ways to repair the damage. Experts predict that the Gulf of Mexico's environment, wildlife, and industries will take decades to recover.

But what exactly is oil? Where does it come from and why do we need so much of it? What caused this disaster to happen and how can we stop it from happening again? Learn the answers to these questions and more as you...

The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of (Kindle Single)

The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of (Kindle Single)
by InsideClimate News


InsideClimate News won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting for this four-part narrative and six follow-up reports into an oil spill most Americans have never heard of. More than 1 million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010, triggering the most expensive cleanup in U.S. history -- more than 3/4 of a billion dollars -- and after almost two years the cleanup still isn’t finished. Why not? Because the underground pipeline that ruptured was carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, the dirtiest, stickiest oil used today. It’s the same kind of oil that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline could someday carry across the nation’s largest drinking water aquifer. Written as a narrative, this page-turner takes an inside look at what happened to two families, a...

Oil Spill Remediation: Colloid Chemistry-Based Principles and Solutions (Wiley Series on Surface and Interfacial Chemistry)

Oil Spill Remediation: Colloid Chemistry-Based Principles and Solutions (Wiley Series on Surface and Interfacial Chemistry)
by Ponisseril Somasundaran (Author), Partha Patra (Author), Raymond S. Farinato (Author), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Author)


This book provides a comprehensive overview of oil spill remediation from the perspectives of policy makers, scientists, and engineers, generally focusing on colloid chemistry phenomena and solutions involved in oil spills and their cleanup.
• First book to address oil spill remediation from the perspective of physicochemical and colloidal science
• Discusses current and emerging detergents used in clean-ups
• Includes chapters from leading scientists, researchers, engineers, and policy makers
• Presents new insights into the possible impact of oil spills on ecosystems as well as preventive measures

Oil Spill!: Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

Oil Spill!: Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
by Elaine Landau (Author)


The oil spill was the largest in U.S. history. In April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank. Oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from a deep ocean well. For months, the energy company BP tried to control the leak. More than four million barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf before the well was stopped. Fishers, shrimpers, and many others along the Gulf coast lost their income as polluted water prevented fishing and stifled tourism. Meanwhile, countless workers tried to contain the spilled oil. Boat crews skimmed the oil slicks on the surface. Scientists poured chemicals into the water to break up the oil. Then bacteria could remove the smaller oil droplets from the water. Wildlife organizations rescued oil-slicked pelicans, turtles, and other animals. The government,...

The BP Oil Spill (True Books: Disasters)

The BP Oil Spill (True Books: Disasters)
by Peter Benoit (Author)




Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 3/1/2011Pages: 48Reading Level: Age 7 and Up

Oil Spill Environmental Forensics: Fingerprinting and Source Identification

Oil Spill Environmental Forensics: Fingerprinting and Source Identification
by Zhendi Wang (Author), Scott Stout (Author)


Oil Spill Environmental Forensics provides a complete view of the various forensic techniques used to identify the source of an oil spill into the environment. The forensic procedures described within represent various methods from scientists throughout the world. The authors explore which analytical and interpretative techniques are best suited for a particular oil spill project.

This handy reference also explores the use of these techniques in actual environmental oil spills. Famous incidents discussed include the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989 and the Guanabara Bay, Brazil 2000. The authors chronicle both the successes and failures of the techniques used for each of these events.

Dr. Zhendi Wang is a senior research scientist and Head of Oil Spill Research of...

Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (No. 3)

Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (No. 3)
by Fates, and Effects Committee on Oil in the Sea: Inputs (Author), National Research Council (Author)


Since the early 1970s, experts have recognized that petroleum pollutants were being discharged in marine waters worldwide, from oil spills, vessel operations, and land-based sources. Public attention to oil spills has forced improvements. Still, a considerable amount of oil is discharged yearly into sensitive coastal environments. "Oil in the Sea" provides the best available estimate of oil pollutant discharge into marine waters, including an evaluation of the methods for assessing petroleum load and a discussion about the concerns these loads represent. Featuring close-up looks at the Exxon Valdez spill and other notable events, the book identifies important research questions and makes recommendations for better analysis of - and more effective measures against - pollutant discharge....

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance
by Congressional Research Service


The impacts of an oil spill depend on the size of the spill, the rate of the spill, the type of oil spilled, and the location of the spill. Depending on timing and location, even a relatively minor spill can cause significant harm to individual organisms and entire populations. Oil spills can cause impacts over a range of time scales, from days to years, or even decades for certain spills.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in 11 fatalities. The incident led to a significant release of oil: according to the federal government’s estimate, the well released approximately 206 million gallons of oil before it was contained on July 15. The 2010 Gulf oil spill generated considerable interest in oil...

Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill

Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill
by Antonia Juhasz (Author)


A searing look at the human face of BP's disaster in the gulfIt is the largest oil disaster in American history, and it could happen again. It is more than a story of ruined beaches, dead wildlife, corporate spin, political machinations, and financial fallout. It is a riveting human drama filled with people whose lives will forever be defined as ""before"" and ""after the gulf oil disaster."" Black Tide is the only book to tell this story through the perspective of people on all sides of the catastrophe, from those who lost their lives, loved ones, and livelihoods to those who made the policies that set the devastating event in motion, those who cut the corners that put corporate profits over people and the environment, and those who have committed their lives to ensuring that such an...

© 2014 BrightSurf.com