Long-Term Study of Oil Spill Impacts in Gulf of Mexico is Renewed

Long-Term Study of Oil Spill Impacts in Gulf of Mexico is Renewed

Anne Giblin, Interim Director of the MBL Ecosystems Center, has received funding for a study on “Oil Spills as Stressors in Coastal Marshes: The Legacy and the Future.”

The grant is a sub-award from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), which has been tracking the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This accident caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history and caused extensive damage to the habitats along the Gulf Coast.

Giblin’s research will focus on understanding the impact of oil on plant production and biogeochemical cycles in Gulf of Mexico marshes, including in controlled experiment areas being subjected to several levels of oiling.

LUMCON, which partners with numerous ecosystems scientists from across the country, has been studying the impacts of Deepwater Horizon for seven years. This continuing award from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will allow the team to complete aspects of experiments and synthesize the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill on coastal Louisiana communities, including topics such as:

  • possible linkages between oil contaminants and shoreline erosion
  • changes to coastal vegetation
  • differences in greenhouse gas emissions from coastal ecosystems
  • changes in carbon flows through wetland food webs
  • constructing computer models of how post-spill oil moved through localized sections of the Gulf Coast, and
  • testing the impacts of oil on Gulf Coast marshes using controlled experiments.

Photo: Sediment in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: MODIS Satellite Image – NASA