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.
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.
Marine oil snow is the largest commuter of carbon to the seafloor and occurs when oil and marine particles aggregate and sink through the water column. Previous studies show that oil and dispersant significantly increased marine microorganisms’ production of exopolymeric substances (EPS), an extremely sticky goo that holds marine snow together. Maya Morales-McDevitt conducts mesocosm experiments investigating how certain naturally occurring nutrients influence EPS production and oil degradation.
University of California Marine Science Institute researcher Uta Passow investigated the formation of aggregated oil and organic material, commonly called marine snow, after the Deepwater Horizon spill.