Oil that enters a marine environment can attach to particulate matter suspended in the water and form oil particle aggregates, which then sink to the seafloor.
Scientists conducted rolling table experiments to improve our understanding of how marine oil snow forms and to provide input parameters for models that predict oil transport via sinking marine snow.
Researchers developed the first detailed numerical model for predicting the conditions under which marine oil snow aggregates form and the amount of oil they transport to the ocean floor.
Researchers simulated the sinking of marine particle aggregates in oil-dispersant mixtures to assess how Corexit chemical dispersant affects specific biological processes involving marine oil snow formation. The team found that Corexit could significantly enhance or inhibit marine oil snow formation depending on application timing and location and interactions with other water column compounds, making its influence difficult to predict.
Researchers used naturally occurring radioisotopes to quantify the footprint of sedimented marine oil snow on the Gulf of Mexico seafloor following the Deepwater Horizon incident.
Principal Investigator Antonietta Quigg describes ongoing research about marine oil snow formation during the Deepwater Horizon spill and its effects on Gulf of Mexico environments. She discusses how this research could inform oil spill response and shares some preliminary results that surprised their research group.
Scientists conducted genetic sequencing on bacteria to document the oil-associated groups in sediment affected by marine oil snow post-Deepwater Horizon. The researchers observed increases in bacteria that degrade aerobic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria in sediment collected from September-November 2010.
Researchers measured polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in water collected near the Deepwater Horizon site to understand how sinking particles, such as marine snow, influence the residence time of PAHs in the upper ocean.
Scientists conducting oil spill research participated in the 2013 Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation (MOSSFA) workshop. The researchers discussed the formation and fate of oil-associated marine snow and its ecological impacts on deep-sea environments and made recommendations for future marine oil snow research.
Evidence suggests that when oil interacts with particles in the marine environment, it can form larger, rapidly sinking particles called marine snow.