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.

Was the extreme and wide-spread MOSSFA event of DwH unique?

  • Sunday, 20 September 2015

A recent publication from Wageningen University in the Netherlands performed a meta-analysis of large oil spills to determine if a MOSSFA brought oil to the sea floor in other oil spills.

During Deepwater Horizon, 9.1% of oil from the well head settled on the ocean floor and was in constant contact with sediments. This roughly 10% made it to the seafloor was through mucus-rich marine snow sinking to the seafloor and collecting oil droplets and clay materials during its descent. When this marine snow carries oil to the seafloor it is known as a MOSSFA event (Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation).

This paper analyzed data from 52 other oil spills to see if a MOSSFA would have occurred in other spills using these conditions: dispersant application, clay materials in the water (originating from the seafloor), and presence of mucus-like substances from oil-degrading bacteria and phytoplankton.

Using the Deepwater Horizon and Ixtoc-I events as a baseline for MOSSFA conditions, the authors estimate a MOSSFA in 15 of 52 studied spills

The authors recommend MOSSFA be considered in the overall environmental efforts following a spill. Does oil on the seafloor contribute to similar habitat loss as oil on coastlines?

The full article is available at the link below:


Sophie M. Vonk, David J. Hollander, AlberTinka J. Murk, Was the extreme and wide-spread marine oil-snow sedimentation and flocculent accumulation (MOSSFA) event during the Deepwater Horizon blow-out unique?, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 8 September 2015, ISSN 0025-326X,

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