Gulf oil spill could hasten corrosion of shipwrecks | Science News

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Gulf oil spill could hasten corrosion of shipwrecks

Metal parts decay more slowly in pristine water, study finds

11:53am, February 23, 2016
3D scan with World War II U-boat

SUNKEN TREASURE  Oil spewed during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill may quicken the corrosion of historical shipwrecks such as the World War II U-boat U-166, pictured here in a 3-D scan of the seafloor.

NEW ORLEANS — Lingering oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could hasten the destruction of historical shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico. Tracking the activities of metal-corroding microbes, researchers found that oil mixed into seawater roughly doubled the amount of observed metal corrosion. The scientists reported their findings February 22 at the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Meeting.

More than 2,000 sunken ships dot the Gulf’s seafloor, from 16th century Spanish vessels to the remnants of a World War II U-boat. These wrecks provide historical insights as well as a home for deep-sea ecosystems. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, with much of it entering the deep ocean.

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