Going after a literal “deeper understanding,” researchers are currently making multiple trips to the blowout site 5,000 feet below water surface.
In the safety of the Alvin – the only deep-diving research submarine that seats two science observers plus the pilot – the researchers are visually exploring and sampling near the Macondo wellhead and at natural seeps sites in the area.
From March 30 through April 22, Chief Scientist Samantha Joye at the University of Georgia along with Ian MacDonald at Florida State University and Andreas Teske at University of North Carolina will be on board the R/V Atlantis. These scientists are members of the Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG), a program administered by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.
Scientists will be monitoring the area for long-term impacts and recovery from the 2010 oil spill. They are also studying the conditioned response of deep ocean ecosystems to natural seeps of low-level hydrocarbons and alterations to those systems by huge inputs as happened with the Deepwater Horizon.
Watch scientists Joye, MacDonald, and Teske as they talk about Alvin and their mission just prior to leaving port:
Read more about this research: Scientists to Revisit Wellhead Site in Legendary Research Submarine.
This research expedition is funded through grants from the National Science Foundation and from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to the Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Imputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) research consortium.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 http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.