Sunday 17 December 2017

The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 19 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.


News (24)

Stay up to date with the latest News from C-IMAGE.

Team will board the R/V Weatherbird II for the longest research cruise to date in a six-year plan to fully understand 2010 and 1979 oil spills

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 28, 2016) – Researchers from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science, along with colleagues representing institutions across the country and internationally, are set to embark on a 40-day research cruise through the Gulf Mexico to gather key data that will provide a more complete understanding of the destructive effects from two significant oil spills. The USF-led research group will study the seas, coastlines and reefs impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon and 1979 Ixtoc oil spills, the two largest submarine blowouts in history.

The team of 13 researchers will board the R/V Weatherbird II on Tuesday, Aug. 3 for the group’s longest trip to date in a six-year plan to study the incidents.

USF is the lead institution for the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), an international research consortium studying the impacts and processes of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. By continuing to study the two massive spills, Deepwater Horizon (210 million gallons) and Ixtoc (130 million gallons), C-IMAGE ultimately hopes to provide powerful new tools and knowledge to response teams, researchers and policy makers in the event of future oil spills. 

Researchers on the cruise, being called the “One Gulf Expedition,” will gather important baseline data to help further study how fish populations have been impacted. The scientists will collect fish samples along the Yucatan Peninsula, around the Bay of Campeche and along the Mexico and Texas coasts in search of bottom-dwelling fish – such as red snapper – as well as sediment and water samples.

Dr. Steve Murawski, USF College of Marine Science professor and director of the C-IMAGE consortium, is the expedition’s chief scientist.

“The muscle and liver tissues, bile, blood, and otoliths (fish ear bones) we are collecting with this expedition will contribute to the first complete set of baseline samples from around the Gulf. It enables us to characterize the present condition of the Gulf and such an expedition has never before been conducted,” said Murawski.

In addition to baseline data, the expedition will provide samples for continued research at USF labs to study the physiological response of fish to toxins, how sick fish respond when encountering oil and the recovery of animal life in Gulf sediments following spills.

“We have learned a great deal about the health of the Gulf following the 2010 spill,” Murawski said. “But we can’t stop here. There’s a remarkable potential waiting for us in the southern Gulf as well.”

This trip is particularly unique as there will also be a team of land-based researchers trekking through mangroves and rocky shorelines in the Campeche, Tabasco and Veracruz states of Mexico looking for traces of oil washed ashore during the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill.

“We hope to be able to fully characterize the oil residue still remaining along the Mexican coasts,” said Dr. Patrick Schwing, a geochemist at the USF College of Marine Science and team lead. “We hope to identify the spatial extent, thickness, any lasting impacts, and study the products of natural weathering of this oil. This part of the effort is to provide the larger context of a comparative effort between the Ixtoc and Deepwater Horizon spills. While the coastal settings may not be exactly the same as in Louisiana, the researchers hope this expedition will help forecast what the impacted sites in the northern Gulf may look like in 30 years.”

During the trip, a vessel tracker will give hourly status reports of the R/V Weatherbird’s position. Frequent updates, including photos, will be provided via the C-IMAGE Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as an expedition blog that will offer a more in-depth look at the research findings. 

Since 2011, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has provided $353 million in research dollars funding consortia – like C-IMAGE – and grants to study spill impacts on coastal, surface, and deep-sea environments, impacts on human health, and properties of oil droplets and dispersants in the ocean. C-IMAGE is one of twelve similar research consortia funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. In 2015, USF was awarded $20.2 million to continue C-IMAGE research.

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 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Both of these incidents resulted in scientists coming together to gather the data needed to understand the fate of the oil, the disturbances it caused to the ecosystem, and its impacts on humans.  One of the largest drivers of research efforts surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident is the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). GoMRI-funded research has significantly enhanced our knowledge of Gulf ecosystems and the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf

It has also identified gaps in our understanding that are leading to new research and insights that will inform society’s response to future oil spills through improved mitigation efforts, refined detection of oil and gas in the environment, more robust spill simulation models, and novel technologies. 

Rapid Responses to Continuing Spill Threats

Oil spills are a persistent threat to the Gulf of Mexico. Just last month, a subsea wellhead oil flow line discharged an estimated 2000 barrels off the coast of Louisiana. When the flow line leak was detected, GOMRI scientists mobilized to visit the site within a few days of the leak to begin studying the impacts of the oil. This rapid response was the result of the research infrastructure developed by GoMRI funding.  Similar to last month’s spill, GoMRI scientists have rapidly responded to other smaller spills.  Within a few days of the July 2013 explosion on the Hercules gas platform off the coast of Louisiana, a diverse team of GoMRI scientists from five research consortia quickly mobilized to visit the rig site.  

The next year, after a cargo ship off the coast of Texas collided with a barge, spilling 168,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil into Galveston Bay, GoMRI scientists were on the scene alongside government and industry workers within days.

This rapid response is not limited to the Gulf of Mexico.  In May 2015, 2,000 miles away from the Gulf, a spill occurred off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA and within hours GoMRI scientists were remotely assisting local researchers.

The GoMRI Legacy

The GoMRI legacy focuses on creating an overall preparedness for future spills by increasing our knowledge of the Gulf, oil, and dispersants; advancing technology and modeling; training future generations of scientists and engineers; engaging and informing the public and stakeholders; and making all GoMRI data available through online open access.

Importantly, unlike during the era of the Ixtoc I spill, technology now allows scientists to archive and share their data with other researchers.  Currently there are 26,000 GB (gigabytes) of data stored in the GoMRI Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) public, online data repository with datasets added daily.  Such data accessibility was not available decades ago.  In many cases, all we have are the publications that resulted from Ixtoc I research, but much of the original data were lost to time.

To date, GoMRI research represents the efforts of 293 institutions from 42 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and 17 countries. The almost 3,400 GoMRI scientists spread across these institutions collaborate on 242 projects and have created 1,100 unique datasets and counting. GoMRI funding has provided research opportunities for over 2,400 students from high school through post-doctoral studies.

The story of some of these researchers and their important discoveries about petroleum pollution, and marine and coastal ecosystems is portrayed in the “Dispatches from the Gulf” documentary produced by Screenscope.

A Legacy Still Being Written

This summer GoMRI scientists forge ahead with fieldwork to continue to monitor the long term impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil and understand oil spill dynamics, including revisiting the Ixtoc I spill site.  GoMRI researchers are wading into marshes and retrieving creatures from the deep ocean; sampling the sediment and surface wave dynamics; examining sounds of whales and bubbles of methane.  Along the way, these researchers will also continue to write the GoMRI legacy.

The annual "Mud & Blood" ("Barro y Sangre" in Spanish) will have a  twist from C-IMAGE's routine of collecting Gulf sediments and fish samples aboard the same vessel. This summer, our sediment researcher will take to the land in search of buried oil from the 1979 Ixtoc I spill. The target coastlines are those which C-IMAGE Member, Dr. Wes Tunnell studied soon after the 1979 spill in the Campeche Bay region. The 'Tunnell Trek' provides and opportunity to see what nearly four decades of buried oil degradation in mangroves, beaches and coastlines.

While the sediment team is trekking through southern Mexico, the fishing team will be fishing in the western Gulf of Mexico for the 'One Gulf' cruise. In previous Mud & Blood years, fish were collected from the northern, eastern and southern Gulf. Now to complete the Gulf with baseline measurement, the crew on the R/V Weatherbird II will circumnavigate around Mexico and across the Texas coast collecting water and fish tissue samples. 

Today, on World Oceans Day, we can reflect on the progress GOMRI has made in advancing oil spill research, and subsequently our ability to deal with the ever present threat of oil spills. Due to the groundbreaking research GOMRI has sponsored, we will be better prepared to understand and respond to any future petroleum releases into marine systems. 

About GoMRI

All research discussed in this article was made possible by grants from The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit




On April 20, 2010, an estimated 210 million gallons of crude oil began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico following an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killing 11 workers. Oil spewed from the one mile deep well head for a total of 87 days while response efforts added almost two million gallons of dispersants into the Gulf.  Both oil and dispersant made their marks on all scales of marine life.  Researchers are still studying their impacts six years later and are beginning to see signs of recovery. Studying these impacts are providing valuable new lessons when dealing with future oil spills.

This year  marks the 6th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science is the lead institution of an international research consortium, the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis (C-IMAGE) that studies the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Diving into the largest accidental spill in history has provided lessons learned for researchers.

‘What we didn’t know’ during the Deepwater Horizon event is a long list. With an unprecedented amount of research funding steered to the Gulf of Mexico, how has our knowledge evolved over the last six years?

Lesson 1: The need for baseline data throughout the oceans to determine the effects of any disaster

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), which was established after the Exxon Valdez spill, the responsible party of a spill is required to pay for cleanup, property damage, to compensate economic losses, and to restore natural resources to its pre-spill condition. An important component of the OPA90 is the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) regulation designating government agencies to quantify the damage and to restore the injured ecosystem back to its pre-spill or “baseline” condition.

In a working Gulf pierced with thousands of drilling platforms, this is not an easy task. Additionally, not having a complete picture of the “before” condition for much of the Gulf leaves us blind to the full picture of recovery. Scientists argue that having quality and wide-ranging baseline data provide an invaluable assessment of the “present” condition in any natural system and could have even influenced how responders worked through their risk assessments. The Gulf had been vastly understudied before 2010. In the six years since the spill, federally and privately funded researchers have collected thousands of samples, making the Gulf a little less mysterious than it was on April 19, 2010.

Lesson 2: Oil can sink, even when on the surface

Marine “snow” is a term used to describe the particulate matter (dead and dying plankton) that falls to the seafloor. Marine snow is a pathway through which oil can be deposited on the seafloor through mixing with falling particles. Researchers speculate that the marine snow process has greatest impact on oil spills during spring and summer –plankton bloom seasons, especially during years of high river flow. Adding to the complexity of these marine snow events is the increased toxicity of burned oil compounds. Crude oil is made of thousands of different arrangements of carbon that become more toxic after they are burned.  These toxic compounds can be trapped in the marine snow where they can cover the seabed and harm the organisms living on the sea floor.

Lesson 3: Dispersants may not as useful as once believed, particularly in the deep-sea

An unprecedented 2.1 million gallons of dispersants – mostly Corexit 9500A – were released during relief efforts both at the surface and at the well-head.  Dispersants are used to break up larger droplets into smaller ones, allowing for increased bacterial degradation. However, studies following the oil spill showed dispersants not only did not stimulate bacterial growth, but may have inhibited bacterial growth, suppressing biodegradation (full study here). 

In the deep ocean, the pressure is 151-times greater than the surface and the temperature is about 4º C (40º F), a much different environment than at the surface.  Historically, dispersants have been used to break up oil at the ocean’s surface.  Little is known about their behavior in the deep sea.

Computer models are used to reenact the impact of dispersant application in the deep sea conditions. Adding dispersants at depth made the sub-surface plumes of oil larger, resulting in larger areas of the sea floor being covered in oil. “Up to 10 percent of the sea floor in the area is covered with oil,” said Dr. David Hollander of USF-College of Marine Science and Chief Scientist of C-IMAGE.

Lesson 4: Prolonged oil toxicity in fish continues even after oil is gone

Fish communities in the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill were exposed to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), one of the more toxic components of oil. High levels of PAHs can cause severe negative effects on fish health, behavior, and reproduction. USF researchers studied the extent of exposure over time and evaluated fish muscle and liver tissue for PAH since 2010. Both shallow and deep water fish communities were sampled and it was determined that after the 2010 DWH spill PAH concentrations in deep water fish increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2011 while the increase in PAH content in shallow water fish increased 20-fold. After 2012, PAH concentrations in these fish fell to levels closer to baseline levels established in 2007.

On July 29th, researchers from the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem (C-IMAGE) will be setting off on a cruise to collect sediment and water samples in areas affected by the IXTOC-I spill. Samples have not been collected for this purpose in over three decades.

The IXTOC-I blowout occurred in the Bay of Campeche in the Southern Gulf of Mexico. Between 3 June 1979 and 10 March 1980, an estimated 126M-210M gallons of oil escaped into the Southern Gulf of Mexico. The fate of all that oil is still unknown.

C-IMAGE researchers will compare impacts of the IXTOC-I blowout to those of the Deepwater Horizon event. Preliminary studies of sediment cores from the IXTOC site provide evidence that oil from both spills shared a similar fate in the gulf.

Sediment cores and water samples will be used to study oil abundance, spatial distribution and fate, micro and macrofauna within the sediment, water column hydrology, and more. The combination of sediment samples and water column data will provide researchers with a holistic analysis from the surface to the seafloor.

Cores from the IXTOC site “will help us characterize the long-term sedimentary record of the IXTOC event […] which will provide an analogous forecast for the Northern Gulf of Mexico, 30-40 years after the Deepwater Horizon event,” says Patrick Schwing, the chief scientist on the upcoming cruise. Essentially, the scientists are looking for a timeline for the Northern Gulf of Mexico’s recovery.

Completing fieldwork at the IXTOC-I site is a new initiative for C-IMAGE. The cruise will mark the addition of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) to the consortium. The project will be the first collaboration between a Mexican institution and C-IMAGE.

Joining the scientists from UNAM will be researchers from Penn State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, University of South Florida, University of Calgary, ETH Zurich, and Eckerd College.

It will be the first time many of the cruise members have done research in Mexico. “I can't wait to travel to a country I've never visited before and meet other students and professors who share similar passions that I do,” says Devon Firesinger, a master’s student at USF’s College of Marine Science.

Dr. Schwing is also looking forward to practicing his Spanish. Overall, the scientists are excited to see what the largely unexplored IXTOC site holds in store. Travis Washburn, a PhD student from Texas A&M Corpus Christi, hopes that “we can limit the damage of future oil spills with the knowledge we get from this cruise.”

The scientists will be on the RV Justo Sierra for 13 days, leaving from and returning to Tuxpan, Mexico. Mind Open Media reporters Ari Daniel Shapiro and David Levin will use audio collected on board for a second round of podcasts about C-IMAGE research. They hope to capture the researcher’s excitement as well as their many discussions and discoveries aboard the Justo Sierra.

Meet some of the scientists:

      Patrick Schwing, PhD
 Post-Doctoral Research Associate, USF-College of Marine Science
 Cruise Roles: Chief Scientist, Core Transfer, Processing & Storage
“People in the field of oceanography typically get into this field for the field work, and there is nothing quite like working offshore.  My favorite times are at dawn and dusk, when the seas are calm.  It can be other-worldly and absolutely beautiful.” 
      Travis Washburn
 PhD Student, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
 Cruise Roles: Macrofauna Sectioning & Preservation
 “There is always work to do, and you really feel like you are accomplishing something important as you successfully collect samples.”
      Aprami Jaggi
 PhD Student, University of Calgary
 Ship Roles: Water Sampling & Filtration
"The Ixtoc waters represent oil water interactions at very low depths in a natural setting. The identification of an oil signature (if any present) in the waters long after the spill will shed light on the delivery of pollutants."
      Samantha Bosman
 Research Assistant, Florida State University, Dept. of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science
Cruise Roles: Core Transfer, Processing & Storage
 “I will be helping with collecting sediment cores and filtering water for particulate organic matter. Specifically, our lab is interested in tracing petrocarbon through the food web using 14C analyses.”
      Devon Firesinger
 M.S. Student, USF-College of Marine Science
 Ship Roles: Core Transfer, Processing & Storage
 “Water column measurements coupled with sediment samples could provide insight on the future of the Deepwater Horizon spill.  How fast will the oiled sediments degrade, how will biodiversity change in the area and will wildlife be able to adapt to the great change in their habitats?”
      Rachel Kalin
 Undergraduate Student, Eckerd College
Ship Roles: Core Transfer, Processing & Storage 
 “I am looking forward to getting more hands on research experience on a Mexican vessel.  I am not looking forward to the heat, but I live in Florida so I am used to it.”

Stay tuned to our twitter and facebook for more information regarding the Mud & Blood Cruises this Summer.

News #1

  • %PM, %11 %125 %2012 %22:%Apr

7703634 sNews topic 1 goes here

Tuxpan, MX

It’s well after midnight aboard the Mexican research vessel Justo Sierra, but an international team of scientists are busy securing marine water and mud samples brought aboard the ship off the coast of Campeche.

Digging 35 years into the past, marine researchers are looking to compare environmental impacts of the IXTOC-I oil blowout (1979-1980) with those from the more recent Deepwater Horizon (2010). Scientists will compare these spills by collecting water and sea floor sediment (“Mud”) samples during a two-week research cruise to the southern Gulf of Mexico aboard the Justo Sierra, owned and operated by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Return to Ixtoc” is a fitting title for the research cruise of the international team of scientists from the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), supported by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) and UNAM. This is the first synoptic research cruise to the affected region in over three decades. Research findings from the cruise can help predict the future of the Gulf post-Deepwater Horizon by studying the chemical and biological consequences of what happened to oil that reached the sea bottom in the past.

The cruise departed Tuxpan (near Veracruz), Mexico on Thursday, 30 July 2015 with graduate students, post-docs, research technicians, and professors from the University of Calgary, UNAM, Georgia Tech, Penn State University, Florida State University, University of South Florida-College of Marine Science and Eckerd College.

Over the next 14 days, around-the-clock sampling of the biology, chemistry and geology of ocean sediments, including microbial communities and burrowing animals, and seawater provides a holistic approach to understanding the fate and effects of marine oil spills.

Not only does this cruise benchmark a 35-year hiatus of IXTOC research, it also symbolizes a renewed partnership between the U.S. and Mexican universities, in sharing expertise and interests in the dynamics of our shared ocean – the Gulf of Mexico.

“Bringing UNAM’s knowledge, expertise, and perspectives to the C-IMAGE consortium benefits not only our students and researchers, but the overall understanding of how human impacts affect our valuable shared seas,” said Dr. Elva Escobar, Director of the UNAM-Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia (Institute of Marine Science and Limnology). “Studying the IXTOC oil spill in comparison to Deepwater Horizon allows us to better understand mechanisms that result in oil at the sea bottom, and to project what the Deepwater Horizon area will look like three decades from now.”

While aboard the R/V Justo Sierra, marine geologists, biologists and chemists collect samples from the ocean floor and take measurements to see just how 35 years changes oil toxicity. Research topics include studying oil-degrading bacteria, organic chemistry of oil contaminants, microscopic shelled animals called “forams”, radio and stable carbon isotopes, and macrofauna such as burrowing worms.

“IXTOC poses an array of questions for researchers,” said Dr. David Hollander, Chief Scientist overseeing IXTOC cruise and Chief Science Officer of C-IMAGE.

“The diverse approach from each of our colleagues allows us to examine oil spills from many different perspectives. Ultimately, allowing us to be better understand the longer-term impacts of a release of large volumes of oil in the environment and to get a handle on the recovery rates of benthic ecosystems resulting from sub-surface marine oil well blowouts,” said Hollander.

“This work at IXTOC will allow us to better predict, and hopefully, prevent some of the effects and unexpected consequences arising from any future marine oil well blowout.”  Studies conducted onboard Justo Sierra are as diverse as the C-IMAGE consortium itself: nineteen research institutions in six countries.

The IXTOC expedition is the first of three major Gulf of Mexico research cruises setting sail this summer by C-IMAGE scientists. Known as “Mud & Blood”, for sediment, mud and fish toxicology, C-IMAGE studies ecological impacts of oil on fish and sediments in the northern and now southern Gulf of Mexico.

C-IMAGE scientists and students aboard the Justo Sierra are sending pictures, blogging, and tweeting.  They are describing their experiences and reflecting on this incredible opportunity for building relationships and partnerships, something crucial for early career scientists.

For more information on C-IMAGE and their cruise schedule, visit the C-IMAGE Webpage, or follow C-IMAGE on Twitter or Facebook.

GoM Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team

  • %AM, %20 %698 %2015 %11:%Apr

The Gulf of Mexcio Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team is organizing another workshop on Wednesday, May 20 in Lafayette, LA titled:

Understanding the toxicity of oil and dispersant mixtures, and the development of alternative dispersants

The seminar will be hosted by the Sierra Club-Acadian Group, and will take place from 6:30-8:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church in Lafayette, LA (please see flyer for more details). This event is free and open to the public, and will feature speakers from LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant. Additionally, there will be a question+answer period, followed up by an audience input session. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Emily Maung Douglass, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / (225) 578-9926.

The full flyer can be viewed here.

It is shaping up to be a great event - hope to see you then!


Save The Date!

Media Contact:  Lara Wade-Martinez

(813) 974-9060

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SAVE THE DATE April 20 - USF Researchers, Colleagues to Hold Media Availability on 5th Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

To coincide with the fifth year anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, University of South Florida College of Marine Science researchers, along with collaborators from Mote Marine Laboratory, Eckerd College and the Florida Institute of Oceanography will hold a media availability at the USF College of Marine Science at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 20.  The event will be held at the College of Marine Science Laboratory (MSL) building, located at 830 1st Street SE, in St. Petersburg in conference room 134. 

Researchers speaking at the media availability were among the first to respond to the oil spill in 2010 and they continue to study the impacts today.

USF scientists and their colleagues will present what they’ve learned to date, explain the questions that still remain, outline future research and discuss the scientific and policy issues surrounding the oil spill.  Immediately following the media availability, tours on board the research vessel Weatherbird II will be offered, along with demonstrations of testing equipment used in oil spill research. 

USF researchers are available for interviews now and up until the event, but all pre-shot footage and photos will be embargoed until the anniversary of the oil spill, on April 20.

For further information, or to schedule an interview with a USF marine scientist in advance, please contact Lara Wade-Martinez direct at (813) 974-9060 or via cell at (813) 833-1498.


The University of South Florida System is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving nearly 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.5 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.


Last year we had the pleasure of hosting Hal and Marilyn Weiner from Screensope to gather content for the upcoming documentary.  Screenscope is a film production company is developing “Dispatches From the Gulf” to help tell the story about the scientists involved and their research to improve society’s ability to understand, respond to, and mitigate the impacts of petroleum pollution and related stressors of the marine and coastal ecosystems. 

We are proud to have so many C-IMAGE members represented, but there are MANY talented scientists featured in this trailer and we're lucky to have the opportunity to work with them.

Check out the



C-IMAGE All Hands Meeting in Houston

  • %PM, %18 %000 %2015 %19:%Mar

We hosted C-IMAGE's 4th All Hands Meeting right after the GoMRI Conference this year in Houston.  We had almost 80 participants representing our goals for both C-IMAGE I and II.  The first half of the meeting was devoted to making plans for a C-IMAGE I wrap up.  In the afternoon we discussed plans for a smooth transition to C-IMAGE II and our new members quickly felt at home and enthusiastically joined our discussions.  Under our four new initiatives, working groups were identified as bridges between our six tasks for guaranteed integration.



After a long week of science talks and the Galleria Mall, we were happy to get offsite for an evening and unwind with our group where we continued our discussions, but also made time for a some laughs and a few hugs! 

Guy Harvey Fisheries Symposium

  • %PM, %28 %061 %2014 %20:%Oct

The 2nd Fisheries Symposium will be held November 13-15, 2014 in St. Petersburg at the University of South Florida St. Pete campus.  Please find details below or click here if you'd like to attend.  C-IMAGE scientists will be speaking at the symposium and the Florida GoMRI Consortia will be at the Conservation Village on Saturday the 15th.




C-IMAGE II Receives Funding for RFP-4

  • %AM, %09 %331 %2015 %01:%Jan

The C-IMAGE consortium was one of 12 consortia selected for funding in 2015-207.  Congratulations to us all! Before we begin the process of moving it through execution, I would like to introduce our five new partners.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Chris Reddy

Florida State University
Dr. Jeff Chanton

Georgia Tech
Dr. Joel Kostka

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Dr. Adolfo Gracia
Dr. Elva Escobar-Briones
Dr. Maria Luisa Machain
Dr. Joan Albert Sánchez Cabeza
Dr. Ana Carolina Ruiz Fernández
Dr. Alonso Rodriguez Rosalba

Harte Research Institute, TAMUCC
Dr. John Wes Tunnell
Dr. John Gold
Dr. Paul Montagna
Dr. Gregory Stunz
Dr. David Yaskowitz

Welcome to C-IMAGE!!  We're looking forward to a productive and collaborative three years. 

Screenscope Visits C-IMAGE

  • %PM, %08 %948 %2014 %17:%Oct

Founded by Marilyn and Hal Weiner, Screenscope, Inc. is a film production company based in Washington, DC that has produced more than 225 documentaries, four public television series, and three feature films.

Screenscope, Inc. is the recipient of a grant from GoMRI to document research conducted in the Gulf of Mexico in response to the Deepwater Horizon spill.  Over the last couple of months, both Hal and Marilyn have traveled nationwide to gather interviews and videos for the film, due out in February 2015.  They spend some time one our Mud and Blood cruise in August and will visit St. Petersburg, FL in late October for additional content.  

                                 Hal and Marilyn Weiner visit the sediment lab in late September, 2014.

C-IMAGE looks forward to this experience and we can't wait to see how Marilyn and Hal put the story together.

You can learn more about Screenscope, Inc. by visiting


C-IMAGE plans for Horizon 2020 effort

  • %PM, %07 %974 %2014 %18:%Oct

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

C-IMAGE European investigators from the Technical University of Hamburg at Harburg, Wageningen University/IMARES have partnered up with DNV GL, SINTEF out of Trondheim, Norway and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to develop an integrated operational response to a potentially catastrophic pollution event.


Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster. Fore more information on Horizon 2020, please visit their website.

FIO Media Day

  • %AM, %21 %252 %2014 %01:%Sep


The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) held its first Open House on October 1, 2014 on the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science campus.  This event educated guests about FIO’s research and education capabilities, innovative technologies and productive collaborations among its 27 member institutions.  C-IMAGE, CARTHE and Deep-C participated in the event to update visitors on GoMRI funded research in the Gulf and how FIO is contributing to GoMRI's mission.

Visitors also were able to tour FIO's research vessels, R/V WeatherbirdII and R/V Bellowsexperience some of the latest ocean technologies, and learn about the wide range of research, teaching and monitoring practices available to protect Florida’s vital coastal waters.  Attendees included members of the Florida University System Board of Governors, President of USF, Judy Genshaft, Provost, Ralph Wilcox, and St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman.

Florida seafood prepared by local chefs from 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House and the TradeWinds Island Resorts was served during the event to highlight the versatility and importance of Gulf seafood.  

Kait Frasier, GoMRI Scholar

  • %PM, %30 %983 %2014 %18:%Jul

Grad Student Frasier is Learning What Dolphins Can Tell Us

Kait Frasier listens to Gulf marine mammals to estimate how many there are and find out if their numbers are changing after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kait sees dolphins as a good species to study because “everyone can see and understand them, not just scientists.”

Kait, a Ph.D. student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California – San Diego, is a GoMRI Scholar with C-IMAGE. She shares her journey, work, and hopes for the future.

Her Path

Kait’s journey into dolphin research came as a pleasant surprise. Despite initially wanting to study deep sea worms, she interned with Dr. John Hildebrand in the underwater bioacoustics lab, using sound to locate whales and dolphins. Being a Biology major, she felt “this was way over my head,” but needing a job, she stuck with it. She thought that working with dolphins would be “a touchy-feely sort of science.” However, Kait soon discovered that the science was surprisingly heavily rooted in physics, math, and computing; so, she took more classes and learned programming.

On NOAA's R/V Gordon Gunter, in the Gulf of Mexico, Kait Frasier dons a survival suit (referred to as a "Gumby Suit"). Researchers have to be able to get into it in under a minute, which takes some practice. (Photo provided by Frasier)

(Click to enlarge) On NOAA’s R/V Gordon Gunter, in the Gulf of Mexico, Kait Frasier dons a survival suit (referred to as a “Gumby Suit”). Researchers have to be able to get into it in under a minute, which takes some practice. (Photo provided by Frasier)

As her role evolved, Kait entered a Ph.D. program in marine mammal bioacoustics, something she “hadn’t even known was ‘a thing’ up until that point” and that “people only do in their dreams.” Not so bad. With this new focus, Kait said that “the combination of the insane beauty of the ocean and the challenges of the research” drew her into the field.

You can read Kait's full interview here:

Susan Snyder, GoMRI Scholar

  • %AM, %02 %228 %2014 %00:%Jul

Grad Student Snyder Cites Integrated Sciences as Key to Success

C-IMAGE's Susan Snyder is the featured GoMRI Scholar this week on GoMRI's home page.  

The GoMRI Scholars Program aims to recognize the graduate students whose vital research contribute to improve understanding about the damage, response, and recovery following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

You can read Susan's full interview here:

Kristina Deak, Guy Harvey Scholar

  • %PM, %04 %996 %2014 %18:%Jun

Florida SeaGrant has implemented a "Friday Interview Series" with the 2014 Guy Harvey Scholars.  What are the marine scientists of tomorrow doing?  See the full interview with our very own Kristina Deak from the University of South Florida and Mote Marine Laboratory.  


Who will be the marine scientists of tomorrow? 

It's Friday and that means it's time for another interview with one of our amazing 2014 Guy Harvey Scholars!

Meet Kristina Deak. She's a master's student at USF and is studying how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected the immune system of fish.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your research? 

A. I study how the oil spill affected the immune system of fish, particularly red snapper and golden tilefish. My primary focus is on cytokines, which are key regulators of the inflammatory response. 

Q. Is there a particular event or memory that made you interested in the ocean?

A. I read “Shark Lady,” a book about Eugenie Clark, when I was a kid and became absolutely obsessed with sharks and other fishes. It still boggles my mind when I walk past her door at the lab now – she was the woman who built Mote and the reason we all get to do what we do there.

Q. What do you do in your free time? 

A. Between being a full time chemist at Mote and a full time graduate student at USF, I don’t have a great deal of free time. When I do, I like to explore our beautiful state, scuba dive, run, and visit all of the local parks and trails. 

Q. What are your career plans?

A. I currently handle the Biomarker portion of the Environmental Forensics Lab at Mote Marine Laboratory. It’s a great place to work and has reaffirmed my interest in being a research scientist and applying biochemistry to environmental problems.


  • %PM, %28 %888 %2014 %16:%May

A summary of the MOSSFA Town Hall Meeting from the GoMRI Conference appears in this week's EOS. The piece was written by Dr. Nancy Kinner, Laura Belden, and Peter Kinner.  Read the full article here.

C-IMAGE All Hands Meeting 2014

  • %PM, %10 %781 %2013 %12:%Dec

Our 3rd Annual All Hands Meeting is scheduled for AFTER the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, Thursday afternoon (January 30th) and all day Friday (January 31st) in Mobile, AL.  Please REGISTER here.

Draft agenda follows:




C-IMAGE in Germany

  • %PM, %24 %119 %2013 %21:%Sep

The Technical University of Hamburg at Harburg (TUHH) hosted the 1st Hamburg Symposium on Deep-Sea Oil Spills on Wednesday September 4, 2013.  C-IMAGE Group shot in Hamburg, Germany 2013.

EVENTS ADDED January 15, 2014!!

We wanted to bring to your attention two sessions that have evolved out of Research Board members’ discussions with  GoMRI PIs and collaborators.  Both sessions will be held consecutively on Sunday January 26 in the Grand Ball Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel.

1.       Dispersants: what do we know and what do we need to learn, to better inform decisions about their use? – Facilitated by Dr Nancy Kinner (Director, Center of Spill in the Environment), this will be an open discussion about dispersants from industry, practitioner, research and private perspectives.  A summary report will be distributed to participants and made available on the GoMRI web site.

You can find the formal announcement here.

2.       GoMRI Hydrocarbons Analysis QA/QC Workshop – Following the Dispersant Session we will transition into a one hour discussion about hydrocarbon chemistry QAQC practices and recommendations from leaders in the field. The discussions from this workshop will be used to frame subsequent sessions and guidance around GoMRI hydrocarbon chemistry research and QAQC.

You can find the formal announcement here.

You are all invited to attend both sessions. Please distribute this announcement to appropriate members in your research groups and encourage those interested to attend/contribute.  


January 26-29, 2014
Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, 64 South Water Street, Mobile, Alabama 36602

Conference Goals

As we enter the fourth year of research following the Deepwater Horizon incident and associated investments focused on the Gulf of Mexico, the science community is now well positioned to deliver integrated findings both within the scientific community and to stakeholder groups. This is why the Executive Committee has chosen “Collaboration, Integration and Synthesis” as the overarching goals for the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference. To accomplish these goals, the Conference will facilitate interdisciplinary discussion and promote outcomes that require integration and synthesis across fields and themes.

Participants of this conference will share new scientific results among the disciplines and develop recommendations or action plans for collaborative integration and synthesis or legacy products from post-spill investment in science. This will be done through sessions that must integrate several disciplines under the umbrella of the session. Sessions will take place January 26th, 27th & 28th, and January 29th will be reserved for presentation and discussion of session outcomes, as well as keynote and other presentations.

Conference Themes

The Collaboration, Integration and Synthesis goals of the conference will incorporate the general themes of Gulf oil spill and ecosystem science, as presented at the 2013 conference, and apply these themes to specific outcome-oriented topics.


The following themes, presented in 2013, apply to this conference:

  • Understanding the dynamic physical processes of the Gulf of Mexico and related environment.
  • Understanding the chemistry of the Gulf of Mexico system and the evolution and interactions of pollutants introduced by humans in the coastal, open-ocean, and deep-water ecosystems.
  • Understanding the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, including the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes, and organisms.
  • Technology developments for improved research and operations in the Gulf.
  • Understanding the impact of environmental health and function on socioeconomic conditions and public health.
  • Gulf of Mexico management and policy, including response, mitigation and restoration following environmental emergencies.
  • Education and outreach

Topics to be addressed

By integrating scientific findings that fall under the conference themes, the conference will address the outcome-oriented topics below. It should be understood that each of these topics encompasses dynamic physical processes, chemistry, biology, health, toxicology, and socio-economics that connect the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and surrounding regions.

  • Ecosystem assessment, vulnerability, and resilience: integrated cause and effect studies and trends across disciplines
  • Ongoing science, technology, monitoring, and mitigation strategies with respect to the DWH Oil spill response: What is needed to prepare for, support, and manage future hydrocarbon exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Valuing ecosystem services and quantifying effects of oil spills on ecosystem services through environmental, public health, and socioeconomic science
  • Promoting scientific literacy, perception, and expectations about oil spill research among stakeholders


Important Dates
Please note these dates are tentative and may change

  • Mid May 2013: Call for Scientific Sessions
  • Late June 2013: Due date for Scientific Session and Workshop Proposals
  • End July 2013: Inform session chairs of session acceptance
  • Mid August 2013: Announce Scientific Sessions, Open Registration and Abstract Submission
  • Mid October 2013: Abstract Submission closes
  • Early-Mid November 2013: Inform speakers of abstract acceptance
  • December 3, 2013: Early Bird Registration rates close
  • January 20, 2014: Online Registration closes
  • January 26-29, 2014: Conference dates

Anticipated attendance

Approximately 600 people from academia, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations.

C-IMAGE co-PI Dr. John Paul received some media attention earlier this month when his publication "Toxicity and Mutagenicity of Gulf of Mexico Waters During and After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill" came out in Environmental Science and Technology.  His study indicates that, based on the Microtox and QuikLite toxicity assays and the Microscreen mutagenicity assay, toxic water existed in the northeast Gulf Mexico in 2010 and 2011 that may have been caused by dispersed oil from the Macondo well blowout.  


Jumping Into Action at the Hercules Site

  • %AM, %24 %450 %2013 %05:%Sep


In the approaching daylight we caught our first glimpse of the damaged Hercules #265 gas rig, and its companion relief well.