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

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil biodegradation inhibited in deep-sea sediments-PSU News

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Degradation rates of oil were slower in the dark and cold waters of the depths of the Gulf of Mexico than at surface conditions, according to an international team of geoscientists trying to understand where the oil went during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"There's no real precedent for the Deepwater Horizon since most previous big spills were in shallow, coastal waters," said Uyen Nguyen, a doctoral student in biogeochemistry at Penn State. "No one really knew how long it would take oil to biodegrade in the deep sea where it's cold, dark, and under high pressure — factors that slow down microbial metabolism."

Naturally occurring bacteria and microbes consumed an estimated 12 to 25 percent of the 210 million gallons of oil released during the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This occurred through biodegradation.

Full article from PSU News

Nguyen UT, Lincoln SA, Valladares Juarez AG, Schedler M, Macalady JL, Müller R, et al. (2018) The influence of pressure on crude oil biodegradation in shallow and deep Gulf of Mexico sediments. PLoS ONE 13(7): e0199784. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0199784

Podcasts from The Loop

The Loop is a series of podcasts which take an in depth look at C-IMAGE research. Partnering with Mind Open Media reporters Ari Daniel Shapiro and David Levin, our researchers share the importance of their studies and how they help our understanding of oil spills. David and Ari have produced eight podcasts and have more in the queue. The podcasts are linked below. Plug in and learn about our research!

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