Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused months-long ‘dirty blizzard’ | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.



Science Ticker

A roundup of research
and breaking news

Science News Staff
Science Ticker

Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused months-long ‘dirty blizzard’

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill rained down on the seafloor for months after the leak was patched, new research shows.

Sponsor Message

A “dirty blizzard” bombarded the Gulf of Mexico seafloor with pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for months after workers sealed the leak, new research shows.

Marine snow, an organic material that floats down from the ocean’s upper layers, carried the pollution to the seafloor, researchers report the week of May 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monitoring accumulating ocean sediment 7.4 kilometers away from the spill site, the researchers discovered that soot from burning oil slicks continued sinking onto the ocean floor for two months after the fires were extinguished. Other contaminants, such as drilling fluid, precipitated for around five months after the well was sealed, researchers report. In total, the spill dumped an estimated 16,000 to 26,000 metric tons of oil pollution to the deep ocean.

This pollution snowstorm could help explain the spill’s unexpectedly large impact on fish and deep-sea corals, the researchers propose.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content